What Should I Do Between Marathon Trainings?

Julie asks: I ran a marathon (my first!) in April. After that I took some time off for recovery and have gradually resumed running again. I am scheduled to run my next one in November, but it’s too soon to begin formal training. What should I be doing?

Congratulations on completing your first marathon—and for taking time off to recover. Now is the perfect time to put some fun in your run before buckling down and following a structured marathon training plan.

During this interim period, keep a few general guidelines in mind: First, you should reduce your weekly mileage volume to about 30 to 40 percent of your high volume training weeks. For example, if you highest week was 40 miles, then run between 24 and 28 miles a week now. On average, this means your “long” weekend run will usually be between 10 to 12 miles. Second, reduce your run days by 1 to 3 days from your marathon training schedule. Run 3 to 5 days a week to allow adequate recovery time. And finally, try to keep your run pace in the moderate to easy range. If you opt to do some higher intensity runs, keep them short. Other than that, try these tips, which will keep you from getting bored, and also help make you a stronger and fitter runner too:

12 Fun Suggestions:

  1. Map out new running routes. Look for hills, stairs and other obstacles to mix it up.
  2. Try trail running.
  3. Unplug and run naked. Running “naked” means leaving your technology at home. Take off your watch, your GPS, and your music. Listen to your surroundings, especially your breathing and foot falls. Run by how you feel, using perceived exertion: If it feels hard, it is hard. If it feels easy, it is easy. Don’t worry about your actual pace.
  4. Register for a few shorter races, 5Ks to 15Ks.
  5. Try an obstacle course race.
  6. Be social. Join a running group, try a meet up run, or run with friends. Take the opportunity to carry on a conversation while you run and enjoy the company rather than focusing on the pace.
  7. Read an inspiring book. Some examples are Born to Run, Natural Born Heroes, The Boys in the Boat or Unbroken.
  8. Try a High Intensity Interval Training class once a week.
  9. Strength train. Add weight training once or twice a week to your routine.
  10. Try a Yoga class, especially a Yin Yoga class which focuses on stretching and flexibility.
  11. Clean up your nutrition, try reducing or eliminating processed foods from your diet.
  12. Improve your running form. Count your foot falls, aim for the recommended 180 foot strikes per minute. Focus on your arm swing, make sure you are not crossing your mid-line.

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