Hal Higdon: Marathon Recovery--Advanced: Recovery after the marathon should begin almost the minute you exit the finish chute. This 5-week post-marathon training program for Advanced runners is designed to help you heal your wounds and recover as rapidly as possible so you can move on to new goals. Each day I will send you an email telling you what to run and offering training tips. For more information and directions, visit my website: halhigdon.com.
Okay, you’re cleared to run again, but don’t overdo it. The Thursday workout for Novice runners the week before the marathon was 2 miles of gentle jogging. Yes, you're an Advanced runner, but that sounds about right for you too.
Now is the time to cross-train. Swim or bike if that is your pleasure, but it’s probably not a good idea to start some new exercise you haven’t been doing the previous 18 weeks. The best cross-training discipline for a recovering marathoner is simple walking. Don’t underestimate the value of this activity. Go at most 2-3 miles.
By now, most of the muscle soreness should be gone. You’re probably ready to resume your regular training routine, but don’t rush things. Stick with the 2- to 3-mile routine today. Or maybe take today off entirely.
Quite often marathoners who did their long runs together in the months leading up to a marathon like to get together to rehash how they did. So call your friends and schedule a run of about an hour, 6 to 8 miles max. But don’t get competitive and push the pace too hard.
Run an easy workout of 3 miles. In the week just passed, I recommended that you do very little running. But I did clear you to run for an hour on Sunday with friends to rehash your marathon experience(s). If you followed that advice, you may feel fatigued from what might have seemed like a low-mileage run a month ago. But you're now in post-marathon mode. During the following four weeks, I'm going to tell you how to build back to a steady state of training.
As was the case during the 18-week marathon training program, Tuesday is a day when you do speedwork. For the next 4 weeks, I'm going to prescribe some repeat training on the track, although you can do this workout on the roads or in the woods. Run 4 x 400 at your 5-K pace, jogging or walking 3-5 minutes between. If not running on a track or measured road quarter-mile, simply run for about the length of time it would take you to cover 400 meters. Don't forget to warm-up by jogging a mile or so and stretching. Cool down afterwards too.
Three miles easy. This is a mirror image of the training you did the final (taper) week before the marathon. If 3 miles seems like too much today, (considering the fact that you are still in your post-marathon mode, break the workout in the middle with a brief walk. On many of my easy days when I do this distance, I run 1.5 miles out, stop to walk a few minutes and turn around, then run the 1.5 miles back.