Getting Back to Running Post-Marathon

It’s been nearly a month since I ran my marathon, and tonight I’m [finally] planning to go for my first run since.

I’ve read a lot about post-marathon recovery and how much rest time one should take. It’s no surprise that suggested recovery time varies depending on who you talk to. And, of course, that time also depends on how you felt during and after your race. Did you finish feeling good, with only (understandable) soreness? Or did you hurt during the race, something felt injured, perhaps you were limping around when you finished? If that’s the case, you need some extra time off your feet to heal.

We all know running 26.2 miles is a HUGE stress on your body, and even your mind. The training leading up to it can also impact your social life, work life, and other aspects of your everyday well-being. For those reasons, I think it’s even more important to take ample time off after a marathon to not only let your body heal, but also so you play catch-up with those other areas of your life: family, friends, work, neglected home duties, etc.

I’ve heard for years that elite runners take off one day for every mile of a race, so typically they’ll take around 21 days off after a marathon. THREE weeks?! Most runners out there cringe thinking about taking that much time off.

In my case, I felt I needed to take at least a whole week off of ANY working out after the marathon. My right knee hurt quite bad right after the race, so I knew the overuse had probably done a little damage. Plus, I was looking forward to the mental rest, being able to come straight home from work and relax, sleeping in on Saturday morning, working on organizing & setting up neglected rooms in our new home, and more. I told myself I could take two weeks off completely, and I didn’t feel guilty about it one bit.

By week two, I was starting to crave the run again: The cathartic steadying breath, watching the scenery float by as my mind cleared of all thought, the sweaty feeling of triumph after pounding out the miles.

I missed running.

And that’s SO important! After 5 months of training, it’s easy to get burned out on running. Take some time off so you can remember how much you love it, what it means to you, and don’t start again until you WANT to—not because you feel you HAVE to. I have several friends who had signed up for races after the marathon, who felt pressured to get back to running after just a few days off. Don’t stress yourself out like that, don’t make yourself HAVE to run. Want to.

Right when I planned to pick up running again, I came down with this cold/bronchitis terrible twosome. But yesterday, feeling 95% back to normal (minus a naggy cough), when a friend asked me if I wanted to join her for a run this evening, I knew it was time to jump back in. I’ve felt ready for it, I’ve been craving it, I’ve been feeling that tickle in my feet to get back out there. And I couldn’t be more excited for it.

Now…if only it weren’t going to be a balmy 40 degrees, I’d say it would be a perfect running night. 😉

How long do you take off to recover after a big race?

What do you do to recover?


2 thoughts on “Getting Back to Running Post-Marathon

  1. I’ve taken a whole month off, this summer and last summer. And I really like how you put it, you should take time off to remember how much you do love it. The months I’ve taken off were to recharge body and mind, and it was just the right amount of time for me to really really want to run again.

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