A Final Marathon Recovery Update

It’s now been six weeks since I ran the Philly Marathon. Two weeks ago, I wrote up a quick recap of my recovery since the marathon.

Things were going well – but not great. So I thought I’d do a final check in today to document how I’m feeling.

Marathon Recovery Goals

Going into the race, I was suffering from a mild injury to my hip flexor. It came on in the week after my half marathon, about five weeks before the marathon.

It was clearly improving by race day, but I was worried about how things would go. Thankfully, I made it through without any issues.

But coming out of the marathon, I was particularly concerned about avoiding any kind of re-injury. One of my main goals of this recovery period was to slowly and methodically return to running, while avoiding any aggravation of my hip flexor.

I also wanted to maintain my running streak. And I wanted to end the year poised to launch into training in January.

The first four weeks went pretty well. I managed to run every day, progressing from a three mile run-walk to a full on eight mile trail run. But when I attempted a ten mile run, three weeks post-marathon, my back started to tighten up and I experienced some discomfort in my hip flexor. So I decided to back off and re-evaluate.

Week Five Post-Marathon

In the fifth week post-marathon, I wanted to continue to ramp up the mileage a little bit – but I also didn’t want to do too much at any one time.

So I ended up breaking down my longer days into doubles. I hit 46 miles for the week, without any single run being longer than six miles.

Sunday, I did a 4-4 split on the treadmill. Monday, I did a 4-6 split on the treadmill. Tuesday was five miles on the treadmill. Wednesday was five miles on the trails, and Thursday was four miles on the trails. Friday was another 4-4 split on the treadmill, followed by a 6 mile treadmill run on Saturday.

I also started doing a simple medicine ball workout after (almost) every run. At first, I could feel a little tenderness and weakness in my right hip. But as the weak went on, that went away and I felt stronger.

The routine varied a little bit, but for the most part it was:

  • Standing Twist, with the medicine ball close to the chest
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Lunges with Twists
  • Around the World, passing the medicine ball behind the back
  • Side leans
  • Planks and/or Leg Lifts

It’s a pretty simple routine. I wanted to keep this relatively quick and work my core and legs. The whole routine only takes five to ten minutes – if it was any longer I probably wouldn’t follow through with it every day.

Things felt pretty good, and I didn’t notice any discomfort in my hip. By the end of the week, I was cautiously optimistic.

Week Six Post-Marathon

This week was the sixth week after the marathon. It was also the last week of the year.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day – the start of a new year and, coincidentally, the start of training for my next race.

My plan for week six was the same – slightly increase mileage, restrict the length of any single run, and use doubles to achieve a higher weekly mileage.

It also happened to be extremely cold, so I spent a lot of time in doors on the treadmill. Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday were singles, while Monday and Tuesday were doubles. Each run was 4-6 miles. I wanted to do a double on Wednesday as well, but life got in the way so I lost out on a few miles in the evening.

Friday I tentatively had a ten mile run planned. I felt pretty good, but ended up turning around a bit early and only doing 7 in the morning. I incorporated a few strides, and I felt good picking up the pace. I added a three mile double in the evening on the treadmill to finish out my planned mileage.

This morning, I went for a six mile trail run. After a few ridiculously cold days, it’s now unseasonably warm. So it was nice to get outside and enjoy the trails for my last run of the year.

I continued to do the medicine ball workout after my morning runs. I think I missed it once this week, but otherwise I did it every day. The weakness I had felt at first was gone, and things felt pretty good.

All told, I ran 50 miles this week, spread across 10 runs.

Looking Ahead

When I finished my marathon, I wasn’t quite sure how my recovery would go.

Thankfully, my hip seems to be more or less fine. I didn’t get my mileage to where I originally wanted to, but I’m close. I think I originally planned to run 55 or 56 miles in the final week, and I hit 50. I think I’ll be fine to hit 60 miles next week and get closer to “regular” training.

I’m going to keep up with the medicine ball workouts. I had planned to incorporate strength training this past year, but I never got around to it. I bought some equipment so I could do squats and heavy lifts – and I think it was too much. The medicine ball workouts are short enough that they don’t really feel like extra work. Doing some heavy lifts would probably be better for me, but consistently doing something is much better than rarely doing the perfect thing.

My next big race is the Jersey City Marathon on April 23. I’m probably going to use a 12 week Pfitz plan, which would start on January 30.

In the meantime, I want to do some light workouts focused more on speed – similar to what I did last spring with Jack Daniels 5k-10k plan.

Tentatively, I plan on doing a long-ish run on Sunday, a track workout (200-200-400) on Tuesday, and a threshold workout (6-8 x 5 minute cruise intervals) on Friday. These workouts will also incorporate some walking breaks, which I’ve found to be friendly to my hip. I’m looking at this as a little added insurance to ensure that I’m fully recovered and ready by January 30.

I’m afraid that if I launched straight into marathon training tomorrow, with more extended, continuous workouts, I might aggravate my hip. So instead, I’m going to keep incorporating some short walking breaks in runs and I’m going to break some runs up into doubles. My weekly mileage goals will be 60 to 70 miles per week, probably something like 60-65-70-60.

Depending on how I feel, I may do a mile and/or 5k time trial on the track, too. But we’ll see how things look going into the final week.

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