On March 5, 2017 I ran the Napa Valley Marathon in 3 hours 20 minutes 15 seconds. My best time by over ten minutes. I also felt the best I ever have post marathon. My first experience with Napa and Sugarloaf left me needing months to recover either from overtraining or an injury. With a solid training cycle and no injuries, I felt strong during this race! After the race my body was tired but overall I felt good so I knew I had to reign myself in and make sure I didn’t jump back in to running too soon.
Now I want to share with you how I progressed through those first weeks back.
Week 1 – focus of the week was recovery
As you can see I did run a total of 4.6 miles. I did one mile with my dog one day and a short warm up and cool down around a yoga class a week after the marathon. My goal was to listen to my body during that run and then decide how to proceed. I knew if I had a plan before that’s how I would get sucked back in too soon!
Week 2 – the focus this week was still recovery
My sister was in town this week and we love running together so I decided to try a couple easy runs with her. This week still included all easy runs 9:xx pace or more and a rest day following every run day! As you can see I got up to 26 miles! Woo!
Week 3 – reverse taper
This week was still lower mileage (that was planned) but to add a bit of speed back into the legs to see how it felt. Wednesday’s tempo felt great- as noted by the smiley face, so I added in another tempo on Sunday to see how it felt. A note about this week, oringinally I had more mileage planned but based on how I still felt I cut back and shortened my tempo workouts and added some walks instead. I almost reached 30!
Week 4 – still reverse taper but with a bit more mileage
Four weeks out was the first week I ran over 30 miles, and not by much! I tried a tempo workout this week and it felt abnormally hard so I changed my runs for the remainder of the week to easy runs, no need to force the recovery because I want to be in good shape for Chicago!!
It wasn’t until week 7, last week, that I surpassed 40 miles for my weekly total! 40 miles a week was the normal during my training cycle, I believe I peaked around 55 miles a week, so I knew my body could handle more, but what was the rush? My body just accomplished an amazing thing, it finished a marathon, it deserves 7 or more weeks of me truly listening to it.
My point is, it is easy to feel pressured to jump back into running and racing. Heck I ran a half marathon Monday and the woman that won ran Boston that same Monday in 3:08! Some people it is just natural for them and their bodies can handle it. Don’t get trapped comparing yourself to everyone else, do what is right for you! No one likes to be injured and personally I knew that if I didn’t ease back and really take my time getting back into higher mileage and higher intensity my body would probably burn out and that would be me, injured and on the sidelines. Truly Tune in and listen to what your body is telling you and adjust your runs from there, or better yet, run for fun! run watchless! Run with your pup! Run with a friend! Or don’t run at all! Go on that hike you have been thinking about! Try that new class at your gym! Mental and physical breaks are what keep me loving the sport, whether it’s an entire break from running or just a break from formal training, we all need them!