2 Weeks after the Jersey City Marathon: Recovery in Full Swing

This is the second week following the Jersey City Marathon.

The race and the training seem so long ago. It’s hard to believe it was just a few days ago.

You can read the race report here. I went out too fast, and I paid the price, but I still finished with a decent time.

Since the race, I’ve been in recovery mode. The first week of recovery went well, and I had worked back up to an easy six miles on the trails by the end of the week.

Although I’m going to be taking it easier than usual, I can’t take it easy for too long. I’ve got another race (the Brooklyn Half Marathon) looming in the near future. And at the end of this week, I’ve also got the rescheduled Spring Distance Classic 15k.

I haven’t decided 100% whether I’m going to run it. That depends on how this week goes. But I’m leaning towards running the race and taking it easy.

The Recovery Plan for Week 2

The first week of recovery is just about getting back out there. By the end of the week, I was able to jog an easy six miles on the trail.

My pace hadn’t returned to normal, but I didn’t feel an overwhelming weight of fatigue holding me back. This second week is about pushing the boundaries a little bit. A longer run on Sunday (but not a long run), consistent runs throughout the week, and a few strides for a burst of speed.

Here’s the daily breakdown:

  • Sunday: 10 miles (or so) easy
  • Monday: 6 miles easy
  • Tuesday: 6 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 8 miles easy + 10x strides
  • Thursday: 6 miles easy
  • Friday: 8 miles easy + 10x strides
  • Saturday: 6 miles easy

And here’s how things went.

A Leisurely Sunday Along the Brandywine Creek

Saturday night, we had driven down to Delaware so that we could go to Longwood Gardens the following morning. I was tentatively planning on running ten miles Sunday – but I was ready to cut it a little short if necessary.

After we got to the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was literally a trail network in the parking lot. It connected to a state and national park along the Brandywine Creek. I could easily get ten miles in here. Route determined.

I woke up early on Sunday and set off. I hadn’t brought my trail shoes, so I was thankful that the trail was pretty dry and flat. It was mostly packed dirt with some rocks thrown in. The trails weren’t that well marked, and I meandered a bit on my way down to the creek. I knew if I headed west I’d eventually hit the creek, and from there I could easily run north-south along the creek to get in my miles.

I hit what I thought was the creek and turned south. It turned out to be Hurricane Run, which is a little feeder creek into the main Brandywine Creek. I passed by a bridge and read the historical marker. The Rocky Run Bridge – nice name – had been there since the late 1800’s. I snapped a picture and continued on.

Shortly after the Rocky Run Bridge, I reached the Brandywine Creek. It was wide and majestic. The sun was just coming up in the east, and it cast a beautiful light over the west bank. I snapped a picture and kept on going.

I reached the southern end of the trail – about two miles south of my hotel – and spotted a cool looking historical building. I snapped a picture of the building and the historical marker. It was an old mill (Rockland Mill Village) from the early 1700s.

I ran across the bridge spanning the Brandywine Creek, snapped a picture of the rapids that powered the mill, and headed north. This section of the trail was uneventful but serene. The sun was still rising, I passed a few dog walkers and joggers. Along the sides of the trail, Virginia Bluebells were peaking up – eager to embrace the coming spring.

After about two miles, I hit the end of that trail. I crossed back to the east side of the creek and the trail continued north. I passed by a picnic area on the left, which a few early risers were enjoying. At the other end of the trail, I reached Smith’s Bridge. This is one of three covered bridges in Delaware. It dates back to 1839, and it’s the longest covered bridge in the state.

From here, I turned back towards my hotel to cover the last couple miles. I was feeling pretty good, but my legs were a bit tired and sore. Part of me worried that I’d overdone it, but I felt fine after I showered and laid down for a few.

It was also getting chilly. The sun had been out when I left, and although it was cool (in the 30’s) it felt warm. Somewhere along the way, the clouds covered up the sun and I started to get cold. I was happy to reach the hotel and warm up.

We spent the rest of the day walking around Longwood Gardens, and it was a long day on my feet. But I climbed into bed when we got home, feeling good – and tired.

Monday – Back to the Routine

I woke up Monday feeling a little stiff and tired. Between the ten mile run, the hours of walking Longwood Gardens, and the long car ride home, I was hoping I hadn’t set my recovery back.

My weekend adventure was over, and it was back to the routine of my local trails. I left the house, started off with a trot, and eased into a jog once I got into the forest.

Six miles out and back went quickly, and I loosened up well before the end.

At the beginning, I thought that my pace was going to be super slow. After all, this was essentially a recovery day. I was surprised when I finished up and stopped my watch – 6 miles in 56:59.

That’s not overly fast for this route, but it was faster than either of the days that I ran last week. Recovery on track.

Tuesday – Another Day on the Trails

Another day, another six miles on the trail.

Uneventful day. Took it easy, and my pace was in the usual range. Any lingering soreness from the weekend was gone.

The weather was beautiful – in the 40’s and sunny. It was a perfect day to hit the trails and enjoy a warm morning in the shade.

Wednesday – A Little Burst of Speed

Wednesday, I left the trails for the first time since my race. I returned to my usual paved route – the Orange Reservoir – for four loops (eight miles).

After the first two loops, I was warmed up and ready. Over the last two loops, I threw in 2 sets of 5 strides. Each one lasted about 30 paces (~100m). I wasn’t accelerating up to full speed (usually these would be around mile pace), and I was just focusing on opening up my stride.

The first few felt a bit iffy. I felt a little tightness in my knee, and I worried it would get wobbly and start to protest. But the more I ran, the better I felt. By the end, I was glad I did the full run and that I didn’t cut it short.

The pace wasn’t anything to write home about, and I clearly wasn’t fully recovered yet. But I felt pretty darned good for having run a marathon ten days prior.

Thursday – On the Trails Again

Thursday was another easy six miles on the trails.

The weather wasn’t as nice as it had been earlier in the week. It was still warm-ish (~45), but it was cloudy. The temperature was dropping over the weekend, and spring was about to disappear for a day or two.

But the run went well. I wasn’t really trying to go faster, but I ended up finishing the usual route in 55:57 – a full minute faster than Monday.

I think the strides yesterday helped unlock my speed a bit and get things back to normal. Another successful step on the road to recovery.

Friday – More Strides at the Reservoir

Friday, I was back at the Reservoir for another eight miles with strides.

It went smoothly. The miles passed by quicker, and I didn’t feel any of the uneasiness I had on Wednesday. It was smooth sailing from beginning to end.

My pace on the strides was still a bit slow, but I was getting closer to normal. I checked Garmin Connect afterwards, and my pace got down into the low to mid 6:00’s. Usually, I’ll hit strides around 5:30 to 5:45 – so that’s still a far cry from normal.

Saturday – On the Road Again

Friday night, I was out of town again. I had a conference in Princeton Saturday morning, and we had a meeting and some prep work to do Friday.

I’d stayed at this same conference center (near Princeton Forrestal Village) last month. In fact, the Saturday before the Spring Distance Classic was originally scheduled, I was staying at this very conference center and running through a heavy downpour.

The weather today was much nicer. There was a slight chill in the air, but it warmed up. I was out early to make it back before the conference started, so I left the hotel as the sun was just coming up.

Instead of looping through the conference area – which is admittedly one of the nicest conference centers that I’ve ever been to – I went west.

It took me two miles to get there, but the hotel was right by the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park. The park includes a towpath trail that runs about 30 miles from New Brunswick down to Trenton, connecting the Delaware River to the Raritan River.

After I hit the canal, I turned north and ran for about a mile. It was beautiful. When you run on the towpath, you’re isolated from the mainland with the Millstone River on one side and the Delaware Raritan Canal on the other.

I saw a guy out with a camera and a giant telephoto lens photographing nature. I passed a woman sitting on a bench enjoying the view of Princeton across the water. The sun cast an erie light over the canal, partially hidden in the shade of the trees, and it looked like a mist was rising up. Birds chirped around, including a bright red cardinal that stopped on one of the trees.

If I had the time, I’d have loved to continue for a nice long run along the canal. Maybe another day. I’ve considered running the whole thing, at some point. But today, I had to turn around after a mile and head back to the hotel to get ready for the conference.

It’s good for the soul to get outside, though, and I was energized and ready for the (long) day ahead.

Looking Ahead

This was another successful week of recovery. I pushed my limits a bit on distance, and after the ten miles on Sunday I know that I’m ready to start hitting some longer runs. The strides were a good opportunity to test out my speed – which is closer to normal, but not close.

I started this week wondering whether or not I should run the Spring Distance Classic 15k. I signed up for it to use it as a tune up race for the Jersey City Marathon. But it got rained out, and the organizers eventually rescheduled it for April 28.

If I was planning things out, I would never choose to race a 15k two weeks after a marathon. But after this week, I think I’m ready. I’m definitely not going to attack it at 100%, but it’ll be a good opportunity to transition back into training for the upcoming half marathon.

My plan is to start out easy and keep it comfortable for the first half. Somewhere around mile five or six, I’ll pick up the pace and see if I can finish up around half marathon pace (~6:25-6:30/mi).

Check back next week for a brief race report to kick off my training recap.

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