Jersey City Marathon Training: The Week After

This week started with the Jersey City Marathon.

It didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, and I have some regrets about going out a little too aggressively in the beginning. But things still ended up well enough. You can read the race report here.

With the race over, it’s time to focus on recovery.

After my first marathon, I was a lot more conservative about recovery. I was also a lot more beat up, and I couldn’t walk well the next day. You know the old joke about a marathon runner trying to go down stairs …

But as I’ve upped my mileage and as I’ve run several more races, I find that my body holds up a lot better after a race. I can bounce back much more quickly.

You can read more about my recovery philosophy here, but I aim to get back out the next day and progress slowly throughout the week. I also don’t have the luxury of time, because I have a half marathon coming up on May 18 (NYRR’s Brooklyn Half).

The Plan for the Week

Unlike in the past, I haven’t mapped out my recovery period in specific detail. So I didn’t go into this week with a specific plan of running X miles on each day.

Instead, I had a general plan to start with about 30 minutes, see how things went, and progress from there. My ultimate goal was to get back to an easy 6 miles – and once I felt comfortable with that I could plan things out in more detail.

However, I’m also trying to move this process along a little more quickly than I have in the past. I have a half marathon coming up in five weeks – which doesn’t give me a lot of time.

So whereas I would usually spend 2-3 weeks doing nothing but easy running and drastically reduced mileage, I’ll probably take this week very easy but build my mileage back up more quickly.

I also like to stay on the trails for the first week. It helps me keep things slow and easy, and if I don’t mind as much if I have to take a walking break.

Monday – First Day Back

I didn’t set an alarm Monday morning, and I slept in a bit. I woke up feeling pretty well rested, and I could move around ok. But when I laced up my shoes and went outside, those first few steps were a real struggle.

My plan was to go out for about 30 minutes. If I couldn’t run the entire time, I’d alternate between jogging and walking, just to loosen things up. The first steps were more of a shuffle than a jog, and it took me about a mile to really feel like I was jogging. After that, things got a little easier. I finished the full three miles at a slow, easy pace on the trails.

Tuesday – A Little Less Stiff

The three miles went fine yesterday, so I decided to up my goal to four miles Tuesday.

Things felt a little better. I was able to break into a jog immediately. Although my pace was slower than usual, I finished up four miles on the trails without issue. There were a few points, especially with the hills, where my effort was noticeably higher than it should be. But otherwise, things felt pretty good.

Wednesday – Feeling Unencumbered

I repeated the same four miles on the trails Wednesday.

This morning, I finally felt unencumbered. I felt good from the beginning, and the four miles breezed by. I just zoned out and enjoyed the sounds of the forest. The brush is growing in thicker now, and things are looking more green. I checked my pace afterwards, and it was better than the previous day. After I left the trails, I had to race to beat a traffic light, so I opened up my stride. It felt great – no hesitation or stiffness.

To be honest, I’m a bit surprised I feel this good only three days after the race.

Thursday – Up to Five Miles

Things felt good after Wednesday, so I upped it to five miles on Thursday.

It was cold and wet – although thankfully the rain was over by the time I hit the trails. Yesterday was early spring, today feels like late winter.

I felt a little something off – not pain or discomfort, just something – in my right hip and my right knee. I took a mental note of it so I could check in later. After a mile or so, everything had loosened up and that odd feeling was gone. Good.

I finished out the five miles at a slightly quicker pace than previously. Getting a little better, day by day.

Friday – A Full Six Miles

By this point, I felt more or less normal.

I had to drive down to the office for a meeting Friday morning, so that meant getting up early. I hit the trails as the sun was coming up, and thankfully the weather was a little warmer than yesterday. The first mile was slow, as usual, but then I felt really good and loose. After I turned around, the final three miles were in the low 9:00’s.

Saturday – A Little Faster Still

To round out the week, I went for a final six mile run on the trails. It had rained over night, so stuff was wet. But the weather itself was pretty nice by the time I woke up and got out. We had gone out the night before, and I woke up with a slight hangover.

What better to fix a hangover than going for a run … ?

Sure enough, after I got warmed up the headache faded away. I found my rhythm, and on the way back my pace was down around 9:00/mi. When my watch buzzed for the final mile, I saw the lap time was 8:52. Pretty fast for the trails, and a sign that I’m feeling good.

Recovery Reflection and Looking Ahead

With each marathon, the recovery process seems to get a little easier.

I’m not sure if it’s the experience, the mileage, or the new carbon plated shoes. Probably a mix of all three.

But I feel much better after this race compared to previous races. I was able to walk around Sunday after the race. When I woke up Monday morning, I was stiff, but not in a “can’t walk down the stairs” kind of way. Once I went for my morning jog, I felt great and I went about my day without any problems.

I progressed my mileage up a little more quickly than I did after my last marathon. By the end of the week, I was able to run six easy miles at a decent pace on the trails, and I don’t feel any lingering effects of the race.

Next week, I’m going to up the mileage a bit more – an easy (shortened) long run, a couple eight miles, and the rest six. I’ll hit around 50 miles for the week.

I was supposed to run the Spring Distance Classic 15k last month, but it got rained out due to flooding. They rescheduled the race for next Sunday. It’s only two weeks after the marathon, so I wasn’t sure if I’d run it or not.

But at this point, I feel pretty good. If I still feel ok at the end of next week, I’ll run the race – albeit at an easier pace.

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