My post-marathon recovery plan and why runners need a post-season


In the pain cave at the 2016 VIctoria Marathon

So far I’m having a fairly typical post-marathon recovery.

My legs are incredibly sore and I’m walking like a zombie. The head cold I got just before my race is still kicking around (because I ran a marathon instead of resting like a normal person). My underarms are still sore and chafed, so I’m applying lotion liberally and not wearing scratchy sweaters. My marathon hanger has subsided, and I’m ensuring I take in lots of protein to aid in muscle repair and recovery. And as usual, I totally compromised my immune system by running hard and have the worst fever blister ever covering 75% of my nose and a bit of my chin. It’s so bad I actually had to work from home today — I look like quasimodo with my poor nose and shuffle-limp. I’m currently locked away in the bell tower hunched over my computer, only lumbering downstairs occasionally for tea and snacks.

Me right now

How I feel right now


I feel like I have been non-stop training since the summer of 2015. I ran the 2015 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon on a whim last October, and only had a few weeks of recovery before I started marathon training again for the Phoenix Marathon at the end of February. After a week of holiday that included a ton of walking around Vegas and Disneyland, I did the Tone It Up Bikini Series challenge for 12 weeks before I jumped back into marathon training again. It wasn’t ideal from a running-priority perspective, as I didn’t give myself a proper post-season.

What is a post-season and why do runners need one?

Every good training program cycles through various stages of preparation, intensity, volume and recovery. In the strength and conditioning world, this known as periodization. Though mesocycles (pre-season, in-season, post-season and off-season) are typical for team sports, it can definitely be applied to marathon or ultra training as well.

My 14-week marathon training program was my in-season. Now that the “competition” is over, for the next few months I should be in “post-season” mode. Post-season is a time for rest and recovery, but it doesn’t mean you sit around and do nothing; most programs will have you do low intensity and low volume activities for fun, such as swimming, hiking, yoga or other recreational activities before jumping into more focused off-season activities like strength training and running.

How I plan to spend the next few weeks

How I plan to spend the next few weeks

Usually after a fall marathon I would take a break and do some lighter strength training or yoga, plus lots of hikes and trail running. Then come late November or early December I would start to work on building basic strength again with a three-day-a-week strength training program (off-season), then move into a four-day-a-week upper/lower split to work on strength and power (in-season) before adding in more runs (in-season) and eventually shifting into marathon training mode again in the summer.

My plan is to do something similar this time around. Even though I started to research spring marathons (as you do right after you finish a fall race), I abruptly stopped myself from that silliness, reminding my brain that my body cannot handle more than one marathon a year (hello, cold sores).

Time to head back into the woods

Time to head back into the woods

I’m going to ease back into exercise next week, probably with just yoga and hiking, though I may try some short runs to see how my legs are doing. During November and December, I will start to add in some weight training again, focusing on endurance and hypertrophy (low weights, high reps). My main focus from now until January will be on recovery and flexibility, then getting back into more serious strength training and running before I start marathon training again. This year I’d like to do some shorter local races, and see if I can improve my time in the half marathon distance. I also plan to change up my marathon training approach this time around, but I’ll share more on that later 🙂

Do you cycle through training seasons?
How do you spend the next few weeks following a marathon?
Do you do more than one marathon a year?
What do you do in your post-season and off-season?

Thanks Amanda for letting me Think Out Loud!