When training for a race or an event you have to have a purpose for every run. One day speed, on day hills, one day long and easy, one day recovery and if you add in a 5th day it should be at a medium pace and distance. Make no mistake, a training plan has to push you so you can get to the finish line, break a PR or qualify for another race.
The tendency, when the race is over and your training plan ends, is to wander. Your running stops for a week or two after the event then you may drag yourself out for 2 or 3 days but at much shorter distances. Long runs on Saturdays drops to 4 miles or so with sleeping in on Sunday crowding out the recovery run. I’ve been there, I know. Now if you are a runner that runs races often, you spend more time in that training phase so you’re good.
For the rest of us, it’s important to enjoy the after-glow of your event but to quickly get back into some sort of training, even if it’s just to maintain. I’ve seen it happen to many runners. Train hard. Run race. Put the shoes away for 6 months. Start over.
Each time you do this, it takes you longer and longer to recover your fitness and regain your mojo for training. Training is long; 3 to 5 months long in some case. And that’s for runners who are starting with a good base. Sure, newbies (and I’ve been there) can go from zero to 26.2 miles in a 3 or 4 month period but you are more prone to injuries and it’s not that much fun to spend most of your time sore.
So if you have completed a race, taken a week or so off and are ready to get back on your feet, plan for it.
Get out your planner and mark off 3 or 4 days to run. One day should be short and fast, one day go find a hill and run up and down it, one day pick a pretty place to run and go slow and longer and finally, a short recovery run. This should be easy and loose.
After a month of doing this add extra miles to your runs. Add 10 minutes to your warm up for speed and hills. Add a mile or two on your longer runs but keep the recovery run short.
Allow fluctuations in your planning. Skip day 4 if you need to or cut the long run if time is crunched. This maintenance phase is to keep you primed and healthy for when training picks up again. With shorter runs you can spend extra time stretching and maybe add in some yoga.
Don’t kid a kidder, I know you’re not stretching as much as you should when training. 🙂
And most importantly, if you came off a training season that caused you aches, pains and/or sidelined your running, get it looked at.
Now go run!