Today marks five weeks since I ran the Erie Marathon.
That also means that today officially marks the end of my post-marathon recovery period – and my return to training and racing.
So how are things going? Pretty good.
I’ll recap the last three weeks since my previous recovery update, and then I’ll end with a quick race report from this morning’s 5k.
Last Three Weeks of Recovery
I’ve been following my typical post-marathon recovery plan. That means low mileage and very easy efforts for the first two weeks, and gradually rebuilding mileage and increasing intensity in the following three weeks.
Week 3 – Almost Normal
In the third week post-marathon, I was starting to feel more or less normal. I was a little tired from the 5k on Sunday, but I still hit my goals throughout the week.
My mileage goal for this week was to get back above 40 miles – and I hit 41.
Sunday, I kicked things off with an easy-ish effort at the local 5k. I ran by effort, trying to keep things at a moderate tempo, and I felt really good. I put in 7 miles, including the warm-up.
Monday, I did an easy four miles of recovery on the treadmill. Tuesday, I stayed inside and split my eight miles on the treadmill into a morning four and an evening four. I took it slow, and everything felt fine.
Wednesday, I went back outside. Ran six miles around the Reservoir, and I threw in some strides. Time to start loosening up the legs and getting used to speed again. They were a little slow – hardly marathon pace – but I wasn’t trying to push things.
Thursday and Friday were easy days. Six miles outside and four miles on the treadmill. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Saturday, I did another six around the Reservoir. I added a set of strides at the end. This time, my overall pace was a little quicker and my pace in the strides was a little better. I still wasn’t as loose and quick as usual, but I was getting there.
Week 4 – An Easy Workout
This week, I still wasn’t ready for a full long run. But I kicked things off with 10 miles on Sunday. It felt good to run my usual long run route.
Monday, I split eight miles across two recovery runs on the treadmill. Four in the morning, four in the evening.
Tuesday, I did six around the Reservoir with some strides mixed in. This time, I felt pretty much normal. My pace got under 6 minutes in a few of the strides.
Wednesday and Thursday, the weather was nice so I hit the trails. Eight miles on Wednesday, six miles on Thursday. It was nice to put in an eight mile easy run – and feel fine afterwards.
Friday, I ran an easy workout at the Reservoir. Eight miles total, including a warm-up followed by 10×1 minutes at effort and 1 minute recovery. I didn’t target a specific pace, but I felt like I was running a little faster than 5k effort. I felt strong throughout, but I was getting a little tired by the last two reps. I checked Garmin Connect afterwards, and my average pace was 6:10/mi.
Saturday, it was raining. So six easy miles on the treadmill.
All told, I hit 52 miles for the week.
Week 5 – The End of Recovery
This week was almost a normal week.
I started with a long run – albeit one on the shorter end. I did 14 miles. I felt great throughout, and my pace was decent, but it was a little slower than it had been pre-marathon. I didn’t push it.
Monday was a recovery day – 4 treadmill miles in the morning and 4 treadmill miles in the evening.
Tuesday was another workout – still easy, but a little harder than last time. Eight miles total, including a warm-up followed by 7×2 minutes at I pace and 1 minute recovery. Again, I didn’t program a pace into my watch and I just ran by effort. I felt strong throughout, but the last two reps kicked my butt. I might have gone a little too hard. When I checked Garmin Connect, my average pace was 6:10/mi again. Awesome.
The weather was crumby, so Wednesday and Thursday were spent on the treadmill again. An eight mile single on Wednesday and 2 four mile doubles on Thursday.
Friday, I did another easy workout. Again, eight miles total. This time, I started with 3×5 minutes at threshold pace and a 1 minute rest, followed by a five minute recovery jog, and ending with 8×40 seconds at R pace with 80 seconds rest. The last bit is basically 8x200m at mile pace, but I didn’t feel like driving to a track. I averaged 6:35/mi for the T pace and 5:40/mi for the R pace.
Saturday, I did an easy six miles on the treadmill for recovery. That wrapped up a sixty mile week. Officially back to normal.
Mini-Race Report: A New 5k PR at the Paramus Run
I’ve registered for a bunch of shorter races this fall, and the Paramus Run this morning was the first one.
I’m still coming off the marathon and just getting back into training, so I didn’t have very high hopes. But I did expect to set at least a minor PR because I haven’t run a decent 5k in a while. My last 5k PR was on a very hot day, and I knew I could go faster in better conditions.
Based on how the Stop for Nikhil felt and the paces I hit in the few workouts I’ve done, I was hopeful that I could break 20 minutes. But I planned to pace things conservatively, as I’d rather finish strong and slightly miss my goal than go out too hard and fade at the end.
So I planned to start out around 6:30/mi and then shave down the pace for the final two miles.
The weather this morning was beautiful – 50’s and partly cloudy at race time. The course was mostly flat, but there were two large hills in the second mile. It was an out and back with a long straightaway along the highway at the beginning and then a little loop through the neighborhood.
I warmed up with a jog along the entire course to get a feel for the hills. Then, after a bathroom break and a sip of water, I did a final mile warm-up with some strides and a few minutes at threshold. I finished up about ten minutes before the gun and I lined up to wait for the start.
It was a crowded start, and I lined up in the second row. The gun went off, and we shuffled forward. I tried to break out, but there was a sharp turn about 200 meters into the race that penned everyone in. Once we got through that turn, it was open running and I was able to speed up.
About a minute into the race, I looked down to gauge my pace … and I realized I hadn’t actually started my watch. Doh. I hit the start button. I checked my pace a minute later, and it was too hot – about 5:55/mi. I backed off and cruised for the rest of the first mile. A few people passed me as I pulled up, but everybody settled in as we turned left away from the highway and went into the neighborhood.
I passed the first mile marker right at 6:30 – right on pace – and clicked the lap button on my watch to get back on track. In retrospect I had slowed down a little too much at the end of the first mile. I picked up the pace a bit but I was only at around 6:30/mi when we hit the first hill. It wasn’t too long, but it was steep. I shortened my stride and maintained effort going up.
A young woman with a Leonia Track Club jersey passed me on the hill, and I let her go. We crested the hill, and I picked it up a little on the flat. Then we hit the second hill – which was less steep but longer. I tried to attack it a little harder, but I didn’t push too hard. When we hit the top of that hill, my pace had slowed more than I thought. I attacked the downhill, and we passed the second mile marker. I split the second mile in 6:45.
I did some mental math, and I didn’t think it would be possible to pick up enough time to break 20. But I figured all I could was hit the gas and grind out as much time as I could. I kept pushing down the decline. I never bothered looking at my watch to see the pace, but in Garmin Connect I see it was about 6:15/mi for that portion.
I was slowly gaining on Loenia Track Club as we turned right out of the neighborhood and headed back up the long straightaway. I was starting to tire a little bit, but I still felt ok. It was a struggle to keep going, but I wasn’t dying out. I slowly reeled her in, passed her, and then set my sights on the next guy in line.
Although I shortened the gap, I wasn’t able to catch up to the next guy. I split that third mile in 6:25 – a good mile, but not nearly fast enough to knock off the time I’d lost on the hills. I had some gas left in the tank, so after I passed the third mile marker I sprinted towards the end. Official time: 20:25.
Reflections and Next Steps
For a brief second, I was disappointed I didn’t get under 20 minutes. But after I thought about it in context, I’m perfectly happy with this result.
It’s a PR, and it’s a good baseline for this fall season. I’ve got plenty more races to improve – and this was really just about getting back to running fast after a recovery period and after two marathon cycles in a row.
I made a mistake with the pacing – taking it a little too easy in the first mile. And I also didn’t account for the hills well enough. They definitely cost me time.
I also think I’m still coming out of recovery a little bit and feeling the lingering effects of marathon fatigue. I’ve got my speed back – but I don’t quite have the full endurance that I did before the marathon. That will improve over the next couple weeks.
I’ve got a 10k next week, where I’ll probably aim to come in a little under 41. I think breaking 40 would be a stretch – but possible if I’m feeling good. That course is pancake flat, and the weather looks nice. Then in two weeks, I’ve got another 5k – and this one is also pancake flat. So I’ll attack that with more even pacing, and I’m confident I’ll come in well under 20 minutes.
From there, I’ll have a few weeks to put in solid training before I get to my two goal races for this fall – the Ashenfelter 8k on Thanksgiving and the Rutgers Big Chill in December.