I went for my first post-marathon run this morning and I’m not going to lie friends, it was kinda hard!
Recovering from a long race, especially if you want to race again anytime soon, is important. So I’m trying to do it right. (Having never done long race, I’ve never needed to take a long recovery – this is all pretty new to me…tapering! Recovery! So many things!)
The I-just-ran-a-marathon-so-I-will-do-what-I-feel-like-when-I-feel-like-it philosophy totally wins out here. I don’t have to do anything, so if I want to do nothing, that is what I'll do! (Buuuut clearly I like doing things. Things being running, preferably.)
Why should you take time off after a race?
Slow exercise increases blood (and therefore oxygen) flow to muscles, which will help with your recovery. This is why it’s important to take easy days after hard workouts. But when you run a MARATHON, you may or may not have micro-teared (micro-torn? HA this is silly.) everything, which means you need to take a looong time to slowly recover.
Do you need to mentally recover?
I’ve never been a big goal-setter, and I always like running and training, so mentally post-race I'm good.
How much time should you take off? i.e. Reverse Tapering
It is reasonable and expected to take two weeks completely off after a big race. Coach George recommends 3-7 days of no running at all, followed by 2-3 weeks of very light running. Back when she was speedy, my mama took a full month off after her fastest marathons.
And all you crazy runners out there – yes I’m looking at YOU. And at me. Don’t worry we’re all in this together! – resting for seven to ten days will have little negative impact on your current fitness, and the long-term gains will outweigh any temporary reduction in fitness.
What I've been doing since the marathon:
I took two days completely off post-race – two days that involved a lot of ice. Then I got in the pool to shake things out (ever so gently) on Day 3.
|Small trash can + ice = fun?|
By Day 5 (Thursday), I thought I was totally back to normal, but I definitely did not feel the urge to run.
Since then I’ve been puttering in the pool and at the gym, mostly to amuse myself and because, like I said, I like to do things.
Today was my first run and it felt odd, kinda like I forgot how to run. I also learned that I am definitely not recovered yet, so I may take some more time off. I’m over the pool…but other cross-training may have to kick in soon.