Marathon Recovery and Planning Ahead: Three Weeks Post Jersey City

Three weeks ago, I ran the Jersey City Marathon. It didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped.

But with it in the rear view mirror, I’ve had a chance to recover, reflect, and plan ahead. Let me share how things have been going.

For more on my general approach to marathon recovery, read this post. For how it actually went this time, keep reading below.

Recovery Week One

The first week – as is usually the case with marathons – things were tough. But really, it wasn’t that bad.

I tweaked my right hamstring with two miles to go in the race, and I was still feeling that the next day. I was able to walk around Sunday, and when I woke up Monday it was still feeling quite tight and restricting my movement.

But I laced up my shoes and got the dog ready for a walk, run, shuffle to see how things felt. The plan was to alternate walking with an easy jog for about three miles. We walked towards the trail, and I was able to shuffle a bit. But my hamstring was too tight to really allow for a running stride. I cut things short, and did a total of two slow miles.

The next day, things felt better. The dog and I headed back to our favorite trail around the corner from my house. My hamstring was still tight, but I the shuffle opened up into a slow jog. I walked less, and I finished the full three miles.

Wednesday, I was feeling better yet. I had an early work event, so I rolled out of bed and immediately got on the treadmill. It was slow – I started at 5.0mph and worked up to 6.3 – but I slowly jogged the full three miles without stopping.

The rest of the week, I went out for three easy miles on the trails. With each successive day, things felt a bit better. By the end of the week, my hamstring felt normal. I’ll take that as a sign that it was a very mild tweak – nothing to worry about long term.

Recovery Week Two

With a full week gone since the marathon, I was feeling surprisingly good. My hamstring wasn’t tight anymore. I had some lingering fatigue, which is totally normal. But as I took stock of how I felt, I felt a lot less fatigue than I had in previous marathons.

Sunday, I started off with a six mile jog on the treadmill. The weather was lousy, and I was brewing beer. So this made it possible to multi task.

Monday and Tuesday, I did an easy three miles each day. Without pushing the pace, I was starting to get a little faster. I noticed my heart rate was a little elevated for the pace, but overall I felt pretty good.

Wednesday, I hit the trails for a six mile run. Finished without incident or walking, and I felt great throughout. And again, my pace was inching back towards normal.

I finished out the week with four miles on the treadmill (Thursday), six miles on the trails (Friday), and four miles through New Brunswick (Saturday). I was away for a work conference, so I had a chance to run through the Rutgers Campus, which was a nice trip down memory lane.

Recovery Week Three

By the third week, I was feeling pretty good.

Sunday, I went for an 8 mile trail run. Still not a “long” run, but it’s getting there. I felt pretty good, and my pace was normal throughout, although I did feel a little fatigued towards the end.

Monday (4 miles) and Tuesday (6 miles) were easy trail runs that felt great. Wednesday, I went for an easy six miles on the paved path around the reservoir, and I finished up with six sets of strides. It felt good to open up and speed up a bit, although the strides were a little on the slow side.

Thursday was another trail run (4 miles) and Friday was another easy run around the reservoir (6 miles) with strides (6x100m). This time, the strides felt a lot better. The instantaneous pace on Garmin dipped into the mid 5:00’s on a few, a sign that I was getting back to my normal self.

Saturday was an easy six miles on the trails. By the end of the week – 40 miles – I felt great. I’ll still take it easy the next two weeks, slowly phasing in a longer run and some more intensity, but at this point I feel more or less recovered.

Planning Ahead

I’ve had some more time to think about the race and next steps.

I still hope to qualify for Boston next year, which means running another marathon by early September. I also haven’t run a legit 5k in a while, and I’d like to race one or two to see what my times are like in a shorter race.

Some friends of mine – who also ran at Jersey City – are running a local 5k in June – the Fitzgerald’s 5k Lager Run. The timing is pretty perfect to give me time to recover, a couple weeks to sharpen, and then time afterwards to launch into my marathon training block. It’s also a net downhill course, so aside from the June weather I should be able to put down a decent time. So that’s step one.

The race is June 11. I’m going to take one more week really easy – 48 miles, a 10 mile long run with some pick-ups, and a few sets of strides later in the week. But otherwise no real workouts. That leaves three weeks to put in a few workouts to sharpen my speed and get ready for the 5k. I’ll probably do a couple light workouts the first week to ease in, then bump the volume in the final two weeks.

Looking ahead to a fall marathon, I’m going to target the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle State Park. It’s timed to sneak in a marathon result right before the Boston registration window opens. It’s not too far from home, so I can drive up for the weekend. Last year, about 50 people finished between 3:00 and 3:10, so there should be plenty of runners around my pace to work with. I’ll probably target around 3:05, but I’ll revisit that once I see how training goes.

I’ll take it easy the week following the 5k, and then start marathon training the following Sunday. That gives me exactly twelve weeks of training. I’m going to base that off Jack Daniels 2Q, peaking at 85mpw. The only thing I have to figure out now is if I just use the final 12 weeks of his 2Q plan or if I pick and choose from the workouts throughout the full 18 week plan.

I will most likely follow that up with the Rutgers Big Chill 5k in December. Running through campus got me nostalgic, and I missed the race this past winter. It’s also timed nicely so that I can recover from the Erie Marathon fully and still put in a month or two of training. And that should also leave me roughly 18 weeks to train for a spring marathon.

So I’ve got a plan, which is always good. Now let’s see how things progress.

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