Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Training Director Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!
Q: I just completed a virtual marathon. How much time should I take off and what should my first long run back be?
A: I encourage runners to consider taking up to a full month off. Yes, a month! Now, that does not mean that you can’t run a little bit from time to time, like 1-3 x per week. But certainly a full month off from any formal training or feeling obligated to run. This recommendation is as much about a mental break as it is a physical one. The transition from completing a marathon to starting back up on a formal training plan is a time to recover, reflect and recharge.
You want to recover enough to get rid of any nagging issues you might have had at the end of your previous marathon segment. Also, you want to be fully recovered going into your next training segment. You want your physical and mental batteries to be fully recharged before taking on the next goal. Take some time to slow down and not rush around trying to fit in the next training run. Do some real reflection and focus on what worked for you in the last training segment and what you would like to improve upon. A month may sound like a long time, but it will fly by and you will greatly reduce your chances of mental burnout or overtraining in your next marathon segment.
Regarding your return to running and what your long run should be, you can use your final taper long run as a guide. For example, if your final long run was 8mi leading up to the marathon then consider running right around 6-8 miles for your return. You don’t need to jump back in too quickly. Additionally, if you are fully recovered, you should transition better into formal training and not have to deal with any lingering injuries or fatigue that would stunt your mileage progression. Some signs you are ready to return to training are listed below.
Signs You Are Ready To Return To Training
No muscle soreness or residual fatigue
Legs not feeling flat or dead
Feel like if you returned to training, a previously nagging issue would not come right back
Mentally not feeling burned out or dreading a new training segment
Feel motivated, focused and excited to start training again
Have a training question? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.