What Your First Post Marathon Recovery Run Might Look Like

by Nikky Manausa on February 7, 2014

Those First Few Steps are Hard! Marathon Recovery Run GPS Stats

Have you ever wondered if you are alone in how difficult your first run after completing a marathon feels? Or humbled by how “slow” you have suddenly become? I mean, really, I just completed a marathon, shouldn’t my next run feel easier? Well if you feel “improved” for your first post-marathon run, then I do think you are alone!

For the Record

Before I share with you my first post-marathon run experience, including my stats, I want to make something very clear. I have always said time, particularly related to running, is all relative. My “fast” might be your “easy.” Your “easy” might be my “fast.” However, we both do share that we just ran 26.2 miles and our bodies feel it!

When Should You Do Your First Post-Marathon Recovery Run?

Determining when you are ready to run again all depends on your training and how your marathon went. Most training programs recommend at least resting the first two days after. I ran the Tallahassee Marathon, my 6th marathon, on Sunday, February 2, 2014. My running coach Nancy Stedman, with Southeast Distance Running, said I could run 3 easy miles as early as Wednesday “if I felt like it.” Well, on Wednesday, I felt like I *could* but I didn’t want to! By Thursday, I was ready to run, but life and weather got in the way (weather usually does not stop me!). So here I am today, Friday, five days after my marathon finally taking my first few awkward steps. I typically run six days a week with Mondays being my “rest” day, so not running for five days means something. I’ll excuse myself this time, I earned the extra rest days, and my body thanks me for it!

Ready, Set, Shuffle!

I wore my CEP Compression socks, my extra “fluff” Adidas Supernova Glide 5s (I prefer a less-cushioned shoe usually, but they make me feel happy on my recovery runs), and strapped on my heart rate monitor to keep my heart in check. The thermometer read 45 degrees and the sun was shining.  I could hardly wait to get out the door!

I walked up to the corner of my street, pressed start on my Garmin, and began my “run.” I quickly realized the spring in my step had disappeared! I had to do a double-check to make sure I recognized the legs below me. Sure enough, they were mine, yet my stride was so short! I felt like I must have looked like a 90-year-old woman shuffling down the hall to get to Bingo night (hey, some of those ladies can do a serious shuffle).

Yes, I am Still Sore … But Not Injured (I want to keep it that way!)

Sore is also relative. I have become quite accustomed to running on “tired” and sore legs; however, when I got out of bed yesterday morning, I felt great! My run today reminded me that I did just run a marathon five days ago. My legs felt like they were running through wet cement and my quads definitely still remembered those 26.2 flat miles. Thankfully though, nothing hurt and that is important. Recovery runs are a good way to determine if you have any underlying injuries. Being injured is not the same as being sore. If something HURTS, like sharp pains or an overall feeling that something is just not “right” then you are better off taking another rest day, or consider doing some light walking instead.

My Stats

I ran a 3:25:45 marathon, which equates to a 7:50 per mile. An “easy” run for me on a given day is somewhere between an 8:30 to 9:15 pace. Why is this important? My average pace today was 10:29 per mile! And you know what? I’m not ashamed one bit about it! You know why? Experience tells me that today’s recovery was not about setting any records, it was about taking it easy so that I can set records later.

Here are my splits:

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 11.26.15 AM

Look at that first mile! Basically an 11 minute per mile pace. Remember how I said this isn’t about how fast or slow I run in comparison to how fast or slow you run? This is about comparing apples to apples, and today my first mile was 2 minutes slower than I typically run that mile on that course.

Let’s Talk Laps

That first mile, as I mentioned, was difficult and could have been ego-squashing. After the first half mile, I stopped (stopped the watch, too) and stretched some. I typically do not stretch cold muscles, but prefer to run somewhere between .5 and 2 miles before I do some light stretching. From there, things started to gradually improve. It’s typical for me to not feel truly warmed up until my 4th mile, hence why the last mile was a little faster. By the end of that 4th mile, I felt energized and ready to start my day. That is how a recovery run should feel!

Take Heart – I Promise You’ll Get Your Mojo Back!

Here are my stats from my first recovery run after the Chicago marathon (3:32:47). I ran the exact same course as I did today, but I ran it on the following Thursday:

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 11.46.28 AM

After Chicago (my 5th marathon) I took the time to recover properly (an entire month) and turned around 3 1/2 months later to run my PR at the Tallahassee Marathon. There is something to be said for taking it easy!

Are you looking for a recovery plan after your marathon? Check out Coach Nancy Stedman’s here.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you would like to follow my progress as I strive to achieve my personal best, including my training from now until the Boston Marathon 2015, please consider subscribing to my blog!




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