If you are an experienced athlete with a number of marathons already under your belt, running faster is not just a goal which relies on increasing physical speed, but the attention which is given to recovery.
In order to run faster than you did before and exceed previous goals, training and conditioning of your body is necessary. However, fatigued muscles and dehydration are a condition which athletes are likely to gain after running. In order to recover you must focus on receiving hydration and rejuvenating your muscles while replenishing their glycogen supply. It will be essential to picking up where you left off in your mission to run faster.
Once you have completed a major running event, giving time for your mind and body to calm down and recover is perfectly natural. Like the owner of a motor vehicle who notices smoke coming from the hood after many hours of driving and pulls over for a pit stop, you must do the same with your body at some point but preferably after you have met your goal in running a marathon or race.
Through proper training you should have enough stamina and strength built up to endure an entire race, but when you cross the finish line and it’s time to go home definitely plan for a decrease in your physical activity. As you determine how quickly you choose to return to normal training, make sure you have achieved some sort of inactivity for the resting of your body and mind.
Training after a race
A gradual return to regular training and major racing can include various forms of informal exercise such as basic workouts to warm you up. Follow these tips in order to make a gradual recovery toward regular training after a race and your chances of running faster than before are likely to increase:
- When you have finished a race which is relatively short such as a 10K, wait about 3 days before you pick back up and start performing extreme runs again. This break period is preferable for runners who are accustomed to reaching long distances. If you are not an athlete of this caliber, it is advised that you give yourself approximately 5 days of recovery time before you return to heavy running.
- If you are of the category of runners who have accomplished races of a 10-mile distance, you are in a category of athletes who deal with a greater set of challenges due to the demands of this race. Since this level of athleticism places more stress on your body, it is recommended that you wait 4 to 5 days before returning to training and racing. The general recovery period for all marathon participants to employ after completing the event is to maintain zero physical activity for 4 to 7 days, then pick back up with a week of running which is moderate to casual pace. After following this schedule it will gradually condition your body to recover while readjusting it to a state which is suitable for a full return back to intensive training and running.
Let us further examine each of the schedules which you can use after a race to get you back to normal training and running, breaking down the daily activity and timing you will use for each. These schedules apply to those who are fresh off of a short race such as the 5K or 10K, a marathon runner or more advanced race runner who will eventually recover from their racing using off-season recovery.
Recovery regimen plan
Athletes who just finished a 5K or 10K challenge should employ the following 10-day recovery regimen. On the first day, plan to rest and do not engage in any physical activity which challenges the muscles you use during running. During this time, you will allow your muscle fibers to cool and stiffen which is the state that allows them to perform for you at their best when it’s time to get physical. Lack of rest after the rigors of a race can lead to tearing of your muscles, which is not a part of your body that is easy to replace.
From Second day to Tenth day
On the second day, head out for an easy 3-mile run and increase your mileage to 5 on the third day. Day 4, complete a speed play run with your easy running distance increased to 6 miles, on this day you can move at the pace of a 5K run. On the fifth day, go back to resting again and do not exercise. Day six should be another easy 5-mile run which will increase to 10 miles on day seven. The eighth day you should perform a combination of the easy run and sprints at a distance of 4 miles, make sure you find a hill which you can do some uphill runs at eight to ten seconds of full-speed movement.
This trade of easy and full-speed high-paced running is a great way to condition yourself to run faster, it is also a technique which helps you to conserve energy over distance. On day nine, do another easy 5-mile run and on day ten mix it up with a warm-up run of 1-mile which transitions into a 4-mile run which concludes with another 1-mile run to decrease your pace.
This next training schedule is for marathon runners who need a good way to condition their body for a quick return to their sport after a race recovery period. In comparison to the regiment recommended for 5K to 10K athletes, this schedule features less mileage as a way to provide marathon runners the amount of recovery suited to their particular physical needs.
Day one is a day of rest, let your muscles recover and regain the oxygen they need to perform while you receive proper nutrition and hydration to rejuvenate your mind and body. On day two you will not be running yet, use this as an opportunity to perform a 2-mile walk. Day three take a dip in the pool for a run which consists of a half and hour in the water.
On day 4 you will hop on the running machine for an elliptical workout of 40 minutes, this is an exercise widely favored by injured runners. Day five you will run for 4 miles and on day six you will rest again. On day 7, pick your mileage up a notch to 5 miles and on day 8 get back on the elliptical trainer for a 40 minute run. Day nine is the same as day 7, perform another run of 5 miles. To conclude your recovery training on day ten, do a speed play run of 6 miles at a 5K pace.
Overall, you should look at the road to recovery after a race as a series of physical and psychological challenges. As you replenish and condition your body gradually from fatigue to rest and back to heavy exertion, consider the mental factor which come into play as well. The exercise schedules outlined above are designed as a way which allow you to recover mentally by receiving rest and accepting a gradual return to competitive athletic challenge.
This pace is important mental conditioning which prevents athletes from jumping back into physical activity too quickly. With this method you can take time to reflect upon reaching new milestones of speed and endurance at a pace which is naturally suited to the human body, resulting in physical and mental conditioning which will help you run faster.