Marathon Recovery

by mariel eiken

The time needed for marathon recovery after a hard effort of 42 km/26.2 miles depends on how you deal with the post-race time. More specifically how you adjust your marathon training in the weeks right afterwards.

Mariel sent this question :

"I have just started my preparations for my first marathon. In that case I wonder how long I have to wait between between my first and second marathon-run, or how long you recommend between two marathons...

Regards from
Mariel Eiken"

Mariel, thank you for the question. The answer to this is : it depends. Most of all it depends on how disciplined you are after the marathon.

How To Recover The Fastest After A Marathon Run

Three things are important to speed up the recovery after a marathon race :
  • Cut down on all longer runs and longer intervalls - substitute it with shorter work with short recoveries

  • Do "elastic type work"

  • Take days 100 % off in blocks of time
1. Cut down of longer runs + do short intervalls

After the initial first week after a marathon - that week should be rest and walks + maybe 2-3 easy runs of 30 minutes only, you can start some more work again.

But keep the intervalls super short - meaning you run sessions such as 1 minute running, 30 sec break etc - repeating 20-30 times - and not above 85 % of maximum heart rate.

What this does is to bring back the elasticity in the legs after the marathon. The longer intervalls (typical 3-6 minute in length) only does you harm in this period as the muscle + tendons ability to gain + release energy is decreased.

2. Do "elastic work" for marathon recovery

After about 10 days time you can start doing small sessions of vertical + horizontal jumps without weight on the shoulders.

Easy on the toe, you can even use a jumping-rope.

This is something the Italian marathon runners have done quite a bit on research on and found to be an excellent way of increasing the post-marathon recovery process.

Series of 20-30 jumps times 4-5 after 2-3 easy runs each week.

3. Blocks of full recovery

Instead of an off day here and there, shoot for blocks of 2-3 full days off training post-marathon.

Why ?

This is much more effective as you need to give your legs some time to heal micro tears that occur during the marathon - and these blocks is perfect for that.

To Sum It Up : 4 - 8 Weeks of Marathon Recovery

If you do this for 3-5 weeks you will be ok to do a half marathon - and a new marathon about 4 weeks after that again.

So about 8 weeks time to a full marathon again (though recommended is 16-20 weeks in between - so you can hit another marathon training cycle again)

All the best with your first marathon and the marathon recovery :)


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