I titled this post Reader Mail. Its not actually mail from a reader; more of a question answered about running after a marathon. Turns out that the query came from a fellow runner through dailymile. This guy is a hellacious runner and much faster than I could ever be. In the past year he has lost 50+ pounds, ran a 4:46 mile and a 2:55 marathon. And this guy turns to me for advice??? Needless to say, I am humbled.
At any rate, read my take on running after the marathon and see how it sets with you.
How quickly any runner can return to the running after a marathon is a product of that person's particular physiology, long term training, individual goals and mental resiliency.
I do not like extended breaks whatsoever and try not to "rest" more than two day consecutively. Since February I have concentrated on running high mileage and found that my body responds well. One key for me is that I don't really aim for speed work. I run fast when I feel capable and slow when I don't.
Aside from refueling and hydration, muscle fatigue and mental fog, how soon you get back to running is up to you alone. Books, coaches and even friends whom do not run all have their own opinions, but those opinions are based largely on the experiences of others. Again, I say to each their own.
A few weeks back I ran 64 miles over 20.5 hours. I finally stopped when my ankles tightened up. I didn't run again for 4 days, mainly due to mental fatigue and personal issues that made running seem impossible. It was all from the neck up. My body was fine.
Two weekend ago I ran 35mi with a single rest day before and after. Then last weekend I ran 25mi on Sat and 24mi on Sunday while taking Monday as my rest day. I did run the preceeding week from Tuesday on, so I didn't rest up prior.
The point to remember is that my goal through ultra training is time on my feet while aiming for a mileage number. There really is no pace goal. I have a fixed number of hours I would like to go for, them a total number of miles I hope to hit. But the survival aspect of running a marathon plus kicks in so I incorporate numerous walk breaks and sit-downs to keep the mind sharp. A focused mind can overcome many physical ailments.
To answer the question of how soon to run after a marathon is larger subjective and individualistic. What are your career goals in running? How often do you want to run a marathon? How long do you want to be a marathoner? Do you have aspirations of running further than 26.2? Are there time goals on your list? All of these questions are important to consider.
As for "losing" anything, you could lay out with only moderately paced running or walking for a few weeks and not lose anything.
I am curious about your background - average weekly mileage, regular pace versus top end pace, number of races you have completed, etc. If you are just starting out just listen to your body and do was feels good. If something begins to hurt that is the time to evaluate the variables in your running form/training to determine the source of discomfort.
Good luck and let me know how things work out.
Between me and you, I love to run long ridiculous miles and thumb my nose at the people who say I (or people like me) are crazy. I think "crazy" would be to not even try.
So readers, I have a question for you. What is your recovery routine after The Big Race? Do you take time off or do you stay in the saddle and keep chasing the horizon? I would love to read your answers in the comments.