Life After the Marathon

The crunching leaves on your runs means it must be marathon season!
If you just finished one, or you’re starting the taper now, you may already be asking yourself: “what’s next?”
For several months now, your running has been focused on one goal. When that’s finished, it’s easy to feel adrift.
Here are a few things I think are important when you’re looking for structure in a post-marathon world:
1) Avoid emotional goal setting

A marathon is an emotional event. The time after a marathon can be emotional, too. Which means it’s not a great time to immediately set goals.
Whether you’re thinking “I ran great! I’m going to go PR in a half next week!” or “that was a disaster, but I don’t want to waste my training. What marathons are coming up this month?” it’s best to take a minute.
Give yourself at least a solid week post-race to really take stock of how you’re feeling before setting any goals.
2) Recovery is a priority

The marathon is a long race and you’ll probably feel a bit beat-up and want some recovery after it’s done.
But runners often forget that they’re not just recovering from the race — you also need to recover from the training cycle itself. It was really long! With a lot of running!
Generally, taking 3-4 weeks to gradually build back up to your “normal” training volume is a good approach.
If you were dealing with nagging injuries during the training cycle, I would recommend taking 6-8 weeks to make sure that you’re fully healthy and healed up before launching into another training cycle.
3) Mixing things up is good

It’s easy to think of the marathon as the end-all, be-all of distance running.
But not only are there LOTS of great races that aren’t marathons, it will actually help you become a better marathoner if you don’t just run marathon after marathon.
This is a really simple way to look at what you may want to focus on for your next training cycle:

  • If goal pace felt fast to you, a 5k/10k training cycle may be helpful
  • If goal pace felt comfortable, but you had trouble holding it, then a 15k/HM training cycle might make more sense

No matter what distance you choose, having a variety of training stimulus will help make sure that your running as a whole improves.
Remember it’s a big distance running world out there — so relax, bask in the accomplishment of your marathon, and then get to exploring!


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About Coach Carl
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, click here.