photos courtesy of Chicago Marathon, Rock n’Roll Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon
Typically marathoners perform best when they run in cooler (40-55 degrees (F)) temps. For many runner’s their best chance to have a good time is with a Fall Marathon. Use this Fall Marathon Guide to select a race & follow the numerous links for valuable training information that can help you achieve your goals.
The only “pitfall” for training for a Fall marathons is that you need to putting in the biggest miles of your plan in the hot summer months. However, the good news is that this is a time when the days are long, and you don’t have worry about ice and snow. Also, there’s typically plenty of build-up races (1/2 marathons & 10ks) available during the Summer or early fall. You can integrate these races into your training schedule and use them as a way to to test your fitness.
Throughout this blog, I provide I number of detailed references which can be used to help you train for your race. I recently published a detailed marathon training follow along of my training for the 12 weeks leading up to Portland’s Foot Traffic Flat marathon. Posts include details of how to set race goals and training paces, nutrition, how to make adjustments to your training, strength training for marathon runners and much more.
Other very helpful posts to ensure your success include:
Here’s a list of some great Fall Marathons. As you can see, I provide some details of each race (like if it’s a flat course, good crowd support, etc). I also include feedback from previous participants so you can decide which marathon is best for you.
If you’re interested in participating in any of these races, please let me know if you would like some help setting your goals or setting up a customized training plan that will be specific to your athletic ability, goals and your busy schedule. I specialize in working with busy middle age athletes, so please contact me if you have questions.
St. George Marathon – great scenery, fast & well organized race, net downhill of nearly 2,600 ft Location: St. George, UT Date: Saturday, October 6, 2018 Website: St George Marathon
Bank of America Chicago Marathon – huge race (45k+), but very well run and tons of spectators throughout the fast & flat course. One of my best running experiences was at the 12 mile point in this race (downtown and packed with loud cheering spectators, truly amazing). Location: Chicago, IL Date: Sunday, October 7, 2018 Website: Chicago Marathon
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon – very well run & supported race on beautiful twin cities course. Tons of spectators. This race gets fabulous reviews, year after year. Typically perfect racing conditions. Location: Minneapolis, MN Date: Sunday, October 7, 2018 Website: Twin Cities Marathon
Steamtown Marathon – net elevation loss of almost 1,000 ft. Good course to BQ, but be careful with the 2 hills near the end. Gets very favorable reviews from past participants. If you live in the Northeast, this is an excellent alternative to the bigger Fall marathons. Location: Scranton, PA Date: Sunday, October 7, 2018 Website: Steamtown Marathon
Mohawk Hudson River Marathon – Easy hills up front when adrenaline is high and only a few shorter, steeper uphills around 12/13. About 1000 runners participate. The bike trails make for fast, easy running. Past participants love the nice spread of post race “goodies.” Location: Schenectady, NY Date: Sunday, October 7, 2018 Website – Mohawk Hudson River
Portlandathon Marathon – for 1 year, the owners of Portland Running Company and the company that manages many Portland area races, will operate a marathon in the City of Portland. The course will differ slightly from the Portland Marathon, but it’s still a USATF certified and BQ course. Location: Portland, OR Date: Sunday, October 7, 2018 Website: Portlandathon Marathon
Nebraska Marathon – starts/ends downtown with much of the course near the Missouri River and into Council Bluffs, IA. A fairly new race, but has excellent reviews from participants. Location: Omaha, NE Date: Sunday, October 14, 2018 Website – Nebraska Marathon
Baltimore Marathon – mixed reviews due to hills in the 2nd half and because ½ marathoners converge with marathoners in the 2nd half of the race. It’s a challenging course that may not be best for 1st timers or runners hoping for a BQ. Past participants generally rave about how well the race is organized and run (lots of aid stations). Crowd support is excellent. Location: Baltimore, MD Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018 Website: Baltimore Marathon
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon – very positive reviews from past participants. Most had a great experience between expo, pre and post race activities. It’s well organized and there’s excellent crowd support. A few hills, but nothing that runners complained about. Bottomline, it’s highly recommended. Location: Columbus, OH Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018 Website: Columbus Marathon
Edward-Elmhurst Health Naperville Marathon – small race in suburb outside of Chicago. It’s not the fastest course (due to a few hills and lots of turns), but if you don’t want to run in Chicago with 40k+ other runners, this is a good alternative. Location: Naperville, IL Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018 Website: Naperville Marathon
Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Detroit International Marathon – Good organization, but not a lot of crowd support during the middle of the race. Relatively flat course, but there is a climb up the Ambassador Bridge which is a little steeper and longer than many would like. This race has been selling out because it’s very popular, so register before end of August to ensure you get in. There is an underwater mile between Miles 7 & 8. Location: Detroit, MI Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018 Website: Detroit Marathon
Ashworth Awards Baystate Marathon – billed as BQ marathon because of it’s mostly flat course. Right outside of Boston along the scenic Merrimack River. Gets a lot of positive feedback for being well organized. Location: Lowell, MA Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018 Website – Baystate Marathon
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – very well organized, plenty of water stations and exuberant spectators throughout the course. Relatively flat (just a few hills) course, so it sets up nicely as a Boston Qualifier. Location: Toronto, ONT Date: Sunday, October 21, 2018 Website: Toronto Marathon
If you’re interested in joining me, I can put together either a custom training plan or I can personally coach you. Either program will be specific to your goals and athletic abilities. Just click on the links for details.
Marine Corps Marathon – this was my first marathon 30+ years ago, when approx. 9,000 runners participated (really big for back then). It’s now a much bigger race with 30k+ participants. Because there’s no corrals at the beginning, it can get a little crowded. Past participants have commented about how the beginning of the race is tough when after mile 1 the course narrows significantly. Overall, mixed reviews, but many are positive. You get to run by a lot of monuments, so it’s a memorable experience. Location: Washington, D.C. Date: Sunday, October 28, 2018 Website – Marine Corps Marathon
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – 10th most Boston Marathon Qualfiers among all North American marathons, with this flat, fast course. Lots of crowd support, bands, cheering sections. Very positive comments from participants. Location: Indianapolis, IN Date: Saturday, November 3, 2018 Website – Indianapolis Marathon
TCS New York City Marathon – The largest marathon in the U.S. Not much for me to say here as most runners are very familiar with this race. If it’s on your bucket list, definitely apply and train hard because it’s a tough course through Central Park and across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the beginning. Location: New York, NY Date: Sunday, November 4, 2018 Website – New York Marathon
Anthem Richmond Marathon – Really positive race reviews from past participants. Many rave about the course, organization and fan support. A lot of runners say they would run this race again because they had such an enjoyable experience. Location: Richmond, VA Date: Saturday, November 10, 2018 Website – Richmond Marathon
Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon – mixed reviews, mostly bad, about the course. It’s fun to run through the Vegas lights in the evening, but most complaints centered around the course and challenges with the start (in 2017 additional security measures were taken due to the mass shooting in October). Lots of bands, entertainment and crowd support throughout the race. They offered a finisher jacket in 2017. Location: Las Vegas, NV Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018 Website: Las Vegas Marathon
Fort Worth Marathon – Fast and flat out and back course along the scenic Trinity River. Don’t expect big cheering crowds or perfectly executed signage at every mile. The course is out and back. Not many spectators line this course. Location: Fort Worth, TX Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018 Website – Fort Worth Marathon
Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon – mostly flat with a few slight inclines. Some recent negative comments about poor/confusing organization. Lots of friendly spectators Location: Philadelphia, PA Date: Sunday, November 18, 2018 Website – Philadelphia Marathon
Williams Route 66 Marathon – this is a challenging course with multiple hills. Overall reviews are favorable because the support is excellent, expo was fun and the course through the neighborhoods of Tulsa gets lots of local support. Location: Tulsa, OK Date: Sunday, November 18, 2018 Website – Route 66 Marathon
California Intl Marathon (CIM) – billed as fast course with net downhill. This course has wide streets so you don’t feel overly crowded, but with rolling hills for the first 20 miles, If you don’t train for hills, your quads may be “trashed.” Bottomline, you can BQ here, but you must train on hills prior to coming to this race. Location: Sacramento, CA Date: Sunday, December 2, 2018 Website: CIM
BMW Dallas Marathon – This is a highly regarded race. It’s 40+ years old and they have plenty of spectators on the course to keep you motivated. Location: Dallas, TX Date: Sunday, December 9, 2018 Website: Dallas Marathon
Finish of Boston Marathon (courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com
The 2015 Boston Marathon is 2 weeks away, hopefully your marathon training has been going well, you’re injury free and anxious to get to race day. This post will provide details of one of the most important runs of your entire marathon training program. I also outline other workouts for the last week of Boston Marathon training leading up to your taper.
I completed the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. In each of these last 2 years, two Sunday’s before the big race, I have run a timed half marathon. In fact, I use this strategy before all my marathons. Running this half marathon at marathon pace gives my body a simulation of the race day experience. I have a course near my house that includes some rolling hills. It’s perfect because it simulates some of the terrain on the Boston Marathon course. This is the longest run I complete over the last 2 weeks of marathon training. The workout gives you a good idea of how you will perform on Marathon race day.
I start the run with a warm-up (easy jog) for a ½ mile and then I run at marathon race pace for a half marathon. Timing this run is optional. I time all of my runs, but what’s most important is that you simulate as best as possible the pace and your marathon race day drinking and gel consumption. Ideally you should have a meal the night before that is the same as what you’ll eat the night before the Boston Marathon. Although not necessary, it would be perfect to run near the same time as you will on race day. Hopefully you feel strong and easily complete the workout. If so, great, you’re nearly ready for race day. However, if you don’t feel your best during the run, don’t worry. You’ll be starting your taper shortly and oftentimes the 7-10+ day of slowing down is all that’s needed to freshen up your legs.
The balance of this 2nd to last week of marathon training includes the following workouts:
1) Monday – rest 0-3 miles and/or cross-fit
2) Tuesday – Intervals at the track or Fartlek. 1 mile easy, 2 miles at 10k pace, 1 mile easy, 1 mile at 10k pace, 2 miles recovery
3) Wednesday – 5-6 miles
4) Thursday – Tempo run. 2 miles easy, 2 x 15 minutes at marathon pace, 1 mile between each, 2 miles recovery
5) Friday – 5 miles and/or cross-fit
6) Saturday – 5-6 miles
For the last hard workout before the Marathon I recommend one more tempo run on the Sunday 8 days before the Boston Marathon. Start with 1 mile warm-up and then run 6 miles at marathon pace. Finish with 1-2 miles recovery for total of 8-9 miles. Pick a course with some rolling hills if you can. The goal is to stretch out and push yourself at a comfortable pace one last time. After this run, ensure you thoroughly stretch and eat a recovery meal that includes a balance of carbs and protein.
During the last week of marathon training, you should taper. This will include some days of 3-5 miles at an easy pace and one day of very light intervals (100-200 meter strides). Good luck on race day. You’ve trained hard, now enjoy the day.
Only 14 weeks until Boston Marathon race day. Each month I will review some specific weekly workouts that have been a part of our last 2 Boston marathon training programs. You should be following a written marathon training plan to ensure you reach your goal, whether you simply want to finish your first Boston or you have specific goal time.
In week 3 of our marathon training plan, our goals are to continue weekly interval or speed training at a track or mileage marked trail. We also want to start adding mileage to our long run. Assuming you have a base, you should complete a longer run at the end of the week (Saturday or Sunday). For beginners I recommend a long run of 7 miles, 12 miles for more advanced runners. Your long run should be at an easy, steady pace. These long runs will slowly increase in length each of the first 6 weeks.
You can begin your 3nd week with a rest day, but instead I recommend an easy 4-5 mile run followed by some cross-fit exercises to build strength. Alternatively, you can complete a 30 minute cross-fit workout followed by an easy 2-3 mile run. I like to incorporate 1-2 days of cross-fit/week in my marathon training. This keeps me fresh and helps to build strength. If you feel tired, then skip the 2nd cross-fit workout and simply take the day off.
On your interval day (typically Tuesdays), I recommend starting the workout with a mile warm-up, followed by 2 sets each of 100 meter strides, butt-kicks, high knees and karoke’s to the left and then right. This will get your heart rate up, loosen your muscles and prepare your body for the workout. After your warm-up and prior to starting the intervals, complete some light stretching. This is particularly important to prevent injury during the cold/wet winter training months.
The initial interval workout should be a set of 400m-600m-800m-600m-400m ladder. Start with 1 set at 5k pace with 90 second recovery. If you struggle to complete the set at an even pace, slow your pace a little and instead complete 8 x 100m strides with 15 second recovery.
Official Boston Marathon Apparel
For beginners, the rest of the week should consist of foundation runs which maintain our fitness and help recovery between intense and long running workouts. In this 3rd week of marathon training, advanced runners should also include a 7-8 mile tempo run which includes 2 x 15 minutes in the middle of the run at marathon pace. These tempo runs will help to build your endurance by teaching your body to run at race pace. The length of the tempo runs will slightly increase during the first few weeks of your marathon training. However, they typically aren’t more than 10-11 miles. Beginners will start with a 5 mile tempo run in week 4.
I finished my 2nd Boston Marathon last week. I ran a disappointing 3:09. It’s a BQ for a 48 year old male (by 15 minutes), so I can’t complain too much, but I was hoping to break 3:00hrs.
With an estimated 1M spectators along what seemed like every inch of the course, completing the 2014 Boston Marathon was truly an amazing experience. This time, the finish was thankfully uneventful. With my training complete, I felt that I was more prepared for this year’s race than 2013. The weather was slightly warm for runners, but perfect for spectators. I saw a number of runners with prosthetic feet/legs. Although I don’t know for sure, I’m sure that many were victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Each time I and other runners passed one of these brave marathoners, we shouted encouragement and thanked them for their efforts. It’s hard enough to complete a marathon with all of your limbs, I can’t imagine the training, dedication and tenacity required to complete a marathon on prosthetics.
Following are my splits per mile. You can see that I really started to slow in the Newton Hills and then again the last 4 miles.
My 2014 Boston Marathon Splits
My preparations for this year’s Boston Marathon started back in Dec 2013. I slowly increased the distance of my long runs and eventually completed 2 x 20 milers. I ran almost weekly intervals at my local (Camas) high school track. I worked my way up to the Runner’s World “Yasso 800s” interval workout (10 x 800s). I actually only completed 9 x 800s a few weeks before the marathon, but all were sub 3:00. According to theory, I should have been in shape to break 3:00hrs. My marathon training also consisted of numerous fartlek, tempo, hill and some easy runs (typically on hotel treadmills where I can only run about 40 minutes before boredom overwhelms me). Just as important as feeling prepared, I was injury free. I had become best friends with my foam roller since December.
Bottomline, I felt prepared for this race as I toed the starting line. The only nagging worry I had was that everytime I completed a long run during training, I noticed that my legs really felt tired. It didn’t seem that the long runs were getting any easier. Also, 2 weeks prior to the marathon, I completed a “trial” half marathon at 1:29 (race pace for someone aiming to break 3:00hrs). During this run, I didn’t feel that I could have gone another 13 miles at the same pace. I didn’t feel horrible, nor did I go all out in this effort, but I didn’t feel like I could easily continue the effort. To put my mind at ease, I figured a good taper and healthy eating the last 2 weeks prior to the marathon would leave me refreshed.
Below are my times/mile for this year’s Boston Marathon. As you can see, I started to slow a lot in the 2nd half and really hit it hard the last 6. My quads were tightening, I could feel a blister forming (more of a “hot spot”) on the ball of my right foot and suffered through inner thigh chaffing the last 8 miles (thank goodness someone was holding out Vaseline near mile 19).
Lesson’s Learned (what went wrong/what went right in my training and during race day):
1) I didn’t drink enough before and during the race. I purposely didn’t drink much at night in the days before the race because I thought it would negatively impact my sleep. I drank water or Gatorade at every aid station along the course, but it’s hard to get a lot down. In previous recent marathons where it was warm (Chicago 2011), I often drank water and Gatorade at numerous aid stations. With temps in the lower 70s by 100pm, I really should have drank more. I’m certain I was dehydrated because I didn’t need to go to the bathroom for nearly 8 hours after I finished the race. I’m sure I had at least 4-5 bottles of water and a couple of beers at dinner during this time frame.
Next race, I think I’m going to race with a couple of bottles on my belt. I train this way, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. This way, I can ensure that I get enough because I will still drink at each aid station.
2) In retrospect, I don’t think that I ran enough long runs. Although I complete a number of 16 – 20 milers, I should have completed a few more (at least 18 milers). I definitely should have pushed harder at the end of each of my long runs. It seems like my legs were “dying” at the end of each of my long runs. My legs were definitely “shot” at the end of this Boston Marathon. It’s not an easy course. Even though there’s plenty of downhill, there’s also the “killer” uphill at miles 16-21 and then the downhill to the finish. Somehow I need to build up more strength in my legs. I’ll post more about leg workouts later.
The race portion of my first Boston Marathon exceeded all of my expectations. Having run a few other “big” marathons like Marine Corps and Chicago, Boston is truly unique. The crowd lines the course almost every step of the way. The night before my preparations included a dinner with training partners from my hometown in Washington, in Boston’s North End. I stayed with some friends in Beacon Hill, just a 1/2 mile away from where the buses met us at 630am on Patriots Day for the ride out to Hopkington. The weather was perfect for a marathon. Sunny and in the lower 40s at 700am with a very slight breeze. After completing the hour+ ride from Boston to Hopkington High School and the athlete’s village we settled in to stretch and take care of pre-race business. The make shift village (really the football field & baseball fields with big tents in the middle) were packed with anxious runners. Unlike the 2012 Boston Marathon, which started in 80 degree temperatures and everyone getting out of the sun. This year, we all craved the warmth of the sun. After a brief moment of silence for victims of the Newtown Connecticut massacre, our wave and starting corral was asked to head out.
We placed our bag of dry clothes and cell phone in the appropriate school bus and walked through the village about .7 miles to the starting line. After a quick rendition of the National Anthem, I found my starting corral, peeled off my old, ratty Notre Dame sweatshirt, threw it in the donation bag by the side of the road and completed my last minute preparations for the start. At 1000am the gun went off and the race started. It took about 2 minutes to cross the starting line. For those in Corrals 6-9 it took 4-5 minutes. Fortunately the race is timed by the chip embedded in your number. As we picked up our pace and moved through massive crowds cheering us onward, we headed down the hill and away from Hopkington. Seeing the mass of runners in the road with all the colors was amazing. I had trained for Boston for 2 1/2 years and I was finally here. Although it seemed like we were just shuffling along, we covered the first mile in 6:50. As we hit the first set of trees, at the side of the road, without crowds, about a mile in, a bunch of people peeled off the course for a much needed pit stop. Marathon runners have no modesty. There were men and women alike that dove into bushes or next to trees to relieve themselves. The fact is, for the last 3 days, we had all been drinking a lot of water. Staying hydrated is one of the keys to successfully finishing a marathon or any long race.
Crossing the start line about 3:00 minutes after the leaders
As the miles started to go by, I continued around a 6:45 pace. Under 3 hour marathon pace. Although I had been concerned about my conditioning, prior to the race, I felt that the pace of my group and the crowd all along the course would help me finish around 3:00 hours. As we raced through towns like Ashland and Framingham, I was amazed at how packed in the small 2 lane road the runners were. It seemed that for 10+ miles, the line of runners wasn’t stretching out as I had seen in previous marathons. Because the runners start position is based on qualifying times, we were all in similar condition and able to keep up close to 3:00 hour marathon pace. I kept a comfortable 6:50 pace during miles 4-10 as we passed through Natick. I passed through the 10k marker in a little over 42 minutes. I was thinking that this check point would trigger a text to my family with my pace. This would be the first indication to anyone tracking me that I was actually on the course and running. I wondered where my family would be along the course to see me and chear me on. I figured they would likely be at the end of the race in Boston.
I continued to run comfortably around 6:45 to 6:55 miles for the first 1/2 marathon. A little before the half way point, I could tell that I was starting to tire. My arms were actually feeling a little tired. I shook them out and told myself to relax. At Boston, there’s aid stations with Gatorade and water every mile starting with Mile 2. Fortunately the tables are on each side of the road, so you don’t have to worry about crossing the road at the last minute to get a drink. You don’t think of the additional distance you cover over 26 miles when you “zig-zag” across the road. It does add up. This year, I actually covered an additional .3 miles. That’s over 2 minutes added to my finish time.
In my experience, I think it’s important to drink something at every station during a marathon. I typically drink water for the first 6-7 miles and then go to Gatorade and water. As we approached Wellsley College I could hear the screaming girls. I had been warned that it would be very loud. The Wellsley girls didn’t disappoint. I could hear them a few hundred yards before we passed. They held signs asking for kisses, some even claimed that they had never been kissed. Other signs declared where the girls were from. I was starting to feel some marathon pain in my legs as we went through Wellsley. I also didn’t have time nor the desire to break stride and kiss anyone.
One of my strategies to get through the marathon is to carry 4-5 energy gels. I like the Powerbar brand that’s easy to open and squirt in your mouth. As you make your way through the race, I don’t have the energy to chew on anything. I consumed gels right before the aid stations at miles 7, 11 and 15. I really can feel the sudden boost you get from the gel. After mile 15, the hills start, so the gel was greatly needed. At mile 17, they handed out gels, so I grabbed 2 and stuck one in my belt. The first was perfect for completing Heartbreak hill which would be through by mile 21. The last gel was badly needed to get me through the last 4 miles.
Another thing I did that really helped was to place a big sticker on my racing singlet with my name. I bet that no less than 500 people chanted “Go Dan” throughout the race. Once during the race, a guy who had been running next to me, stated that I must be the most popular guy on the course. As I made my way across Heartbreak hill and through Boston College, I was greeted by groups of people chanting my name. This was incredibly motivating as my legs really started to tire the last 5 miles of the race. I really had a sense that thousands of people were personally cheering me on to finish. In Boston, these crowds are 4-5 people deep the entire length of the course. With fantastic weather, there’s no shortage of people to cheer.
The last 5 miles were a blur. Not that I was going fast, but it’s hard to remember much besides massive crowds and a burning desire to finish the race. The weather was comfortably in the upper 50s and sunny. I remember running by Fenway Park, looking up and thinking how lucky those people were to simply sit and watch a baseball game while I was completely exhausted at mile 25. As I made the last few turns and headed down Boylston St, I was on fumes. The last few miles of a marathon are truely a mental game. Obviously you train for months to finish, but I have never actually run 26 miles while training for a marathon. Just don’t stop and you’ll eventually cover the last few miles.
I was fortunate to finish. Although my time of 3:05:38 wasn’t my fastest time by a longshot, I was very happy with the outcome. My family, including wife, kids, mom, sisters, aunt, uncle, cousins and some nieces were all watching near the finish line. I am so thankful that I finished well before the explosions and that they were well away from the finish an hour later.
I don’t know what qualifying for 45-50 year old males will be for 2014 Boston, but I’m going to assume that I’m well under it. I plan on running again in 2014 along with many others.
Since I just finished the Boston Marathon 2 weeks ago, I thought it would be appropriate to post about my recovery plan. A successful plan prevents injuries & illness during the restoration to full training mode and prepares you for the next race. Basically I follow a plan that involves running two to three days a week, coupled with 2 cross-fit sessions. It typically takes about three weeks for my body to recover from the strain of running 26 miles. I know of people who have run the Boston/Big Sur double (2 marathons separated by 2 weeks). Although I felt fine physically the last 10 days, I know that running a second marathon yesterday would have been returning too quickly. By doing so, I would increase the risk of injury. My friend who successfully completed this double last year, admits it took a toll on his body as he had to sit out much of the Summer in pain.
I have been questioned about the timing to start running hard and long again (to train for the next event). I think the determining factor shouldn’t be simply how quickly your body recovers physically, but also you need to ensure you’re in the right frame of mind to run. Running shouldn’t be a chore or a penalty. Instead it’s something you want and are excited to complete. You need to feel this way about going out to run before you can start running with any regularity. Although I could walk without pain in my quads within 4 days after the marathon, I wasn’t ready to go out and run a 10 miler or any kind of track workout. I think that just as important to my physical recovery is my mental recovery. Now that I finished the Marathon, I have no other race on my schedule (not counting the 2014 Boston Marathon). If you’re ready and willing to run 4-5 days per week and complete some cross fit in the gym, then start up again. However, inside of 2 weeks after the marathon, any running should be easy (4-6 miles). One school of thought is to reverse/mirror the training you completed 3 weeks before the marathon.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’re not elite runners training to qualify for the Olympics. For some crazy reason we love to run marathons and we want to continue to run marathons. My advice is to keep your mileage down (4-6 miles per run) for the first 3 weeks, except to complete a couple longer runs of 7-9 miles, which would be completed no sooner than 2 weeks after the marathon.
Another critical factor in marathon recovery is your eating. For the few days after the race, consuming quality (not packaged) carbohydrates (fruits, pasta, bread), lean proteins, plenty of vegetables and liquid (water). After completing the marathon, your immune system will be weak. We absolutely need to provide our body with good food to build our system back up and remain healthy. The famous Alberto Salazar, claims that after his famous 1982 Boston Marathon victory, he suffered from recurring injuries, colds and other illnesses. Years later, he attributed a portion of his problems to poor recovery from this specific race.
Based on how your body feels and the timing of your next race, it’s important to follow a recovery plan. Don’t allow yourself to get into a cycle of physical problems that impedes your return to top fitness or, even worse, sends you on a tailspin that ultimately prevents you from running. The best recovery plans take into consideration common postmarathon ailments. Understanding the symptoms and being able to identify, manage, and prevent injuries is critical to successful recovery. Coming soon, I will publish some downloadable templates that allow anyone to develop their own marathon recovery plan.
Setting new targets for your running is nearly as important as planning for recovery without injury. A new target may be a future event, race, or fitness level. For example, after one Boston Marathon, a friend of mine decided to use his marathon training as base work for master’s track racing during the summer that followed. The target should be distant enough that it doesn’t conflict with your first goal of proper recovery. However, the target should be near enough for it to motivate you through the postmarathon blues. Although postmarathon blues are not what most people consider injuries, they can be just as harmful; thus, it’s important to quickly set new races to shoot for. Depending on the race, you can often do this before the marathon. Just insure that race planning process doesn’t distract you from your Boston goals.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t address a few physical issues that could be problematic after your marathon:
Race-Acquired Problems and Dehydration. From blisters to plantar fasciitis, neuroma symptoms, and iliotibial band syndrome, problems can arise during the marathon that never exist beforehand during your training. Basically, systemic problems acquired during the marathon will affect the marathon recovery process. Even something as trivial as blisters can create additional problems. Trying to run in the early days following the race while blistered areas are still sore, can lead to componsating with our form to avoid pain. This modified running form can abnormally stress other areas already fatigued and ultimately set up new injuries. My strongest recommendation is to resolve race-acquired problems before you return to full training. Worn-Out shoes can lead to a multitude of injuries. Most runners do not buy new shoes and break them in during the training program. Given that some shoes dramatically lose their shock-absorbing and protective characteristics after 350 to 500 miles, many runners’ shoes will be shot by the time their owners start their postrace recovery program. To avoid this injury risk factor, consider buying a new pair of shoes after Boston. Alternate from your old pair to the new pair to allow a gradual adaptation to the new shoes. Your new pair should be broken in about the same time your feet and legs are ready to scale up the training regimen.
One post race injury that I will discuss is one that I suffered through for quite a while. In early stages, Achilles tendonitis symptoms are present early during a run and again at the end of the run. Hills and speedwork can aggravate the condition. In later stages, the Achilles tendon will be painful with any running effort and also with walking. Fortunately, I didn’t get to this latter stage. However, I know those who have suffered from late stage achilles tendonitis and they noted that the tendon was painful to squeeze or simply touch. Also, the tendon can be sore or stiff with first steps after sleep or after sitting more than 20 minutes. The best self-care should include ice massage for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day until pain free. Recovery from achilles tendonitis involves a disciplned approach. The injury can take monthes to eliminate. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen and calf-stretching exercises; When pain-free, begin strengthening with eccentric resistance exercises, such as standing on a chair or top stair on your tip-toes and (slowly) lowering your heel until you reach the endpoint, with your heel lower than the ball of your foot. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. By adding weight (i.e., hold dumbbells) and reps as you become stronger.
Lastly, you may need to resort to a more permanant remedy. After suffering on and off for 10+ months, my physical therapist, finally convinced me to orthotics. He claimed that my problems were the result of pronation. With the correct orth0tic I have been running “injury free” for the last 8 months.