You did the training, you survived the taper, and you got the bling for finishing your event… now what? It’s time to rest and recover. The body has been through an ordeal and needs time to recharge. Get lots of sleep and continue with all that healthy eating you were doing before the race. Well, except for that cheeseburger, fries, and beer reward for finishing. That meal doesn’t count!
Most runners will take several days to two weeks off running completely. How much is right for you will depend on how hard you raced. Beginners that finished their first marathon may take the full two weeks. An experienced half marathoner may be out running the next day. The key is to not take too much time off. You trained hard for your race, don’t let all that fitness go to waste. Hit the internet and pick your next target race and get back out there!
Get back out there, but take it easy. The general rule of thumb is one day of easy running for each mile that was raced. Marathoners will just do easy running for 26 days or about four weeks. Half marathoners will take about two weeks. No speed work, no hills, no tempo runs. This helps make sure the body isn’t pushed too hard before it has had a chance to fully recover.
How much running should you do in those first few weeks? A good strategy is a reverse taper. During your taper you gradually reduced distances over a three week period. Now, gradually increase over three weeks. A suggestion is 30/60/90. Whatever your peak mileage was before your race, aim to run 30% the first week back, 60% the next week, and 90% in the third week. You can now start back into the next training block.