After running your marathon, you will fall into one of three camps.

  1. You are hurting and you can not imagine ever doing something like this again.
  2. You are hurting and are set to take the next few weeks/months completely off to recover
  3. You feel pretty good and think you are ready to get going again right away.

The first two are really the same thing. Your second marathon usually happens right around the time you forget how much the first one hurt. Taking time off after the marathon is definately what your body wants, since you have spent a lot of time and energy training for and then running a fairly grueling event.

The problem with taking time off comes in when you have a busy summer racing season coming up or when you are just getting really depressed because you don’t have your daily training fix to boost your spirits. This can usually be solved by cross training for the first few weeks after your race and then getting back into the training mode, be it for 5k or 10k races or for another marathon.

The third group, who feel pretty good, might want to jump right back into the thick of things without taking adequate rest. Sometimes, this is not a problem. You may have run the marathon easy enough that your body recovers pretty quick, and a couple of light mileage weeks is enough to repair the damage and get going full tilt again. More often than not, however, this is a recipe for an injury. At the very least, you should tend to reverse your taper to get back into your training mode. If you were training to do multiple marathons in a short span of time (as I will be this Autumn) then obviously you have a plan for what you want to do between marathons and will hopefully have a base that can support that.

A week ago this past Sunday, I ran the Vermont City Marathon at a relatively easy pace. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t working hard, but it certainly was not an effort that would result in a personal best. (It did bring me in with my second fastest time to date, but I was in pretty good shape for that sort of a run.) As a test to what I am going to be doing this Autumn, I decided to try running a 5k with only 3 days of rest. That was an experiment, and I still took a lot of time off last week. I only ran about 13 miles total (which includes 2 weekend runs) and this week I will probably only run in the mid 20s for mileage.

After my marathon, I felt fine. I was moving around without too much difficulty the evening of the race, and was walking around without any trouble within a day or two. I felt okay during the “race” part of my 5k (not so much during the cool down though) and I felt okay during my weekend short and easy runs.

The point of this rambling is today was my return to the gym. I had a 12 week program that I used to get ready for the marathon, the last two weeks of which basically were rest as the few times I went to the gym it was to spot my fiance and to just do some random light lifting as the whim took me. Now I am a bit over a week out from the marathon and ready to start my next training phase, which should be about a 6 week bit working out twice a week.

This ties into the marathon recovery bit. Easy running hasn’t really affected me, but a strenuous lifting workout sure made me sit up and take notice. My heart rate was very elevated, I was sweating 4 times more than usual, and the weights seemed to be a little harder to move than they were a few weeks ago. I imagine I will be fine by the end of this week or next week, and some of that could be due to the new exercises and combinations.

Endurance athletes tend not to have any trouble taking their training seriously. They need to remember to take their rest and recovery just as seriously. Remaining injury free makes it that much easier to be successful at our athletic pursuits.