Returning to running the week after a half marathon

Trying to run after racing my first half marathon was difficult.

I did a lot of reading leading up to the half about what to do to train/prepare for running a half, staying up late reading blogs on my phone for weeks, but I completely overlooked researching what I should do after the half in order to appropriately recover. In hindsight, this was particularly dumb of me because I’d signed up for another long-ish race two weeks after the half (this coming weekend).

Running in the week following the half marathon was difficult mentally and physically, and my comfortable pace was much slower than I thought it would be. I wasn’t sure how much I should run in order to find a comfortable balance between recovering and prepping for the next race. I decided to try a couple short runs and a longer run in the first week, as shown below.

Run Schedule

Below is my run schedule for last week (+1 week after the half) and this week (planned runs in italics.)

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
+ 1 (6.4 miles) Rest 3.1 miles Rest 3.3 miles Rest 6 miles Rest
+ 2 (18.3 miles) Rest 5.2 miles X-train 3.1 miles Yoga 10 mile race Rest

Running pace

I think I would have been ok had I skipped running for a full week after the half, but I was paranoid about “losing fitness” and ran even though my legs felt super stiff and heavy. Here is a plot of my running pace while training for the half (before) and after the half so you can see the difference. Again, while training I would really just run pretty comfortably, not aiming for speed. Also, my particularly bad ~13’ pace run was mostly hills with a lot of elevation change on a 6 mile route I’d never run before. My legs only feel back to normal for my run as of today, about 10 days later.

Comfortable pacing before and after the race.

You can see that my comfortable pace after the half is comparable to what it was about one month before the half.

Things to do differently next time

In hindsight, I think I could take a full rest week after the next half marathon. During training, I ran a long run of 13 miles in a time of just over 2:22. I didn’t feel too bad after that run, and was only slightly sluggish for the runs after that. I think part of it was that I walked around a lot immediately after that long run, ran it easier, and took a nice walk with the dog the day after, but after the half marathon, I plopped down in the grass to sit as soon as I grabbed my pizza in beer and then sat on the couch napping and not moving all day.

I read later on that night that that was pretty much the opposite of what to do. Next race I’ll make sure to keep moving and walk around quite a bit to cool down immediately afterward and plan some dog walking time for the days after.

Also for next time, I’m going to make sure to be better friends with my recovery buddies, the foam roller and ice pack. My knees felt pretty unhappy this week in general, and I think they would have been better off had I iced them more than just the day of the race. I also skipped foam rolling entirely, which probably would have helped with how stiff and tight my calves felt.