For the past 6 weeks or so I have been in what I would call a “recovery” phase after my last marathon. This included a week of no running, then a few weeks of low-mileage, and a couple weeks of just running whatever felt good while also including other forms of exercise. It was really just a time when I did whatever I wanted as far as training goes. While it was nice to not worry about running X number of miles, I always feel a little lost without a training plan.
I find that it can be kind of scary/tricky to move from recovery back into training. Going from low-mileage/easy running to high-mileage/hard workouts can be a recipe for disaster! It’s important to move slowly back into training. Some training plans include a base building period, but some assume that you are already at a certain point in your training. I always like to look at week 1 and know that it is the same or less as the workouts I have been doing recently.
Last summer I figured out some great ways to prepare to move back into training mode. I think this period is actually pretty fun because there still isn’t the pressure of workouts but it changes things up from just running slow, easy miles.
1. Work on increasing mileage, then add intensity. We always hear that you shouldn’t add both at once. I have found that it seems to work better to up the mileage first because then you have more wiggle room to fit in your workouts. You can always drop your mileage a bit as you add intensity. It’s really not a bad idea to do that. Two weeks ago I ran 42 miles, but this week as I add in workouts I will probably run closer to 30-35 miles. Once you are comfortable with workouts you can bump the mileage back up by either adding another day of easy running or increasing the distance of your easy runs.
2. Run Fartleks (aka speed play). Fartleks are a really good way to get your legs moving faster without adding too much intensity at once. An example would be choosing one run a week to add 1 minute intervals of speed. I would suggest maybe going around 5k pace and seeing how that feels. I’m sure for me this will hurt because I haven’t run 5k pace in months! Take a few minutes to recover in between sets and repeat maybe 5-7 times. This workout can easily be adapted to your current fitness level and there is really no right or wrong way to do it!
3.Add a tempo run. Tempo runs make us faster!! But they are also really challenging so we can’t expect ourselves to just go out and do an 8 mile temp run after 2 months of only easy running. One way to start adding tempos back in is to split them into shorter segments. So maybe you plan to do a 6 mile run: You can run a 1 mile warm up followed by 1 mile at tempo pace (which might be somewhere between 10k and half-marathon pace depending on your training), with 1/2 mile recovery, repeat twice and finish with a mile cool down.
My plan for this week is to run a fartlek workout on Tuesday (today) and see how that feels. If it goes well and I’m not sore/worn out, I’ll try a mini tempo run on Thursday. Otherwise I will just do one workout this week and try a tempo next week. I’m also not increasing my long-run distance during this time. I will probably keep my long runs between 8 and 10 miles until I am in a comfortable place with my training and then slowly begin adding to those.
I hope that this info helps some of you who may be starting to get ready to train for a race! E-mail me with any questions or leave a comment, and remember that I am a running coach and would love to help you reach your goals!
What phase of training are your in right now?
What types of workouts do you like to do in the beginning of your training?
What/where/when is your next race?!