There’s the right way to recover from a marathon, and there’s the way I recover from a marathon. Conventional wisdom says to take quite a bit of time off after a race – usually one day for each mile raced – but I’ve never been much for conventional wisdom, or time off, or anything else considered practical. I ran my comeback marathon on October 12, and boarded a plane back home about 3 hours after I finished. The next day, I went back to my barre studio for my normal Monday class. And on Tuesday, I started a new training plan with hopes of PR-ing in a winter marathon.
Admittedly, part of the reason I choose to “recover” from marathons this way is because it’s hard for me to let myself take time off. But a bigger part of the reason is that, to quote Forest Gump, “I just felt like running.” I’m not always motivated to stick to a training plan or do my long runs, so when I am, I like to take advantage of it. I’m willing to take days off when I feel that I need them, but if I’m not overly sore, noticing diminishing returns on my training runs, or mentally exhausted, I’ll likely just keep pushing.
Of course, I’m also a person who doesn’t give most races my best effort. Races, for me, are not so much about racing. I know that sounds insane, but I see them more as organized events that give me a fun way to spend time with my friends doing something I love, while seeing the country and the world. As such, I’m not usually running as fast as I possibly can. When I do race a marathon or a half-marathon to the best of my ability, I definitely take time off afterwards. But for races that I simply complete, I continue my training as normal for the next event unless I have aches and pains that indicated that I shouldn’t.
Does that mean that it’s ok to run a bunch of miles right after completing a marathon? Maybe, or maybe not. Ultimately, I think it’s all about figuring out what is right for your body and what you want to accomplish. I ran 20 marathons in 2012, so my body got used to the distance. This year, I’ve done 2, so I am not quite in the same boat. Some people need more recovery and some need less, but it depends on your body and your goals. I’ve found a system that works for me, and I hope you have, too!