Striking an even balance between maintaining fitness levels and ensuring a proper recovery is vital to keep you running injury-free

So whatever distance you’re running we answer your most frequently asked questions about how, and when, to return to running after a big race.

How Much Time Should I Take off After a Race?

The general rule of thumb is for each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before gently returning to running.

If you weren’t racing your event, then taking fewer recovery days is fine.

For example, if you were racing a 10k you should take 6 days’ recovery but if your run effort wasn’t all-out such as if you were running at marathon pace or moderately as a fun run then taking between 2 and 6 days is fine.

How Intense Should my Running Training be When I Return?

When you return to running keep it easy, at conversational pace, until you reach the race-recovery rule.

Using the example above, if you ran an easy 10k and return to running after 2 days’ rest, keep it easy for another 4 days.

Feeling tired or fatigued as well as never-ending colds and flu are good indicators that you’re pushing yourself too hard too soon. Keep track of your heart rate 2-3 times during the day; if it’s higher in the morning you could be overtraining. 

Can Cross-Training Aid my Post-Race Recovery?

Cross-training and weight training are the perfect companion to running recovery. Low impact exercises like biking, swimming, and weights keep your fitness levels up, helping to build the supporting muscles used in running while giving those primary muscles a chance to rest and recover.

How Long Should I Wait Before Running Another Event?

Shorter distances such as 5k or 10k don’t need a long recovery time so it’s possible to run these distances every week or every other week if you wanted to.

Half-marathons and marathons have a much longer training and recovery schedule.

Proper marathon training should be at least 12 weeks, plus your 2 week taper so minimum 14 weeks. If you’re recovering from another marathon you need at least 2 weeks’ recovery so you should approximate 16 weeks total between marathon race days. Realistically, you should only run 2 or 3 marathons a year maximum to ensure you stay healthy, strong, and injury-free. 

How Can I Speed Up my Running Recovery?

Taking the proper combination of carbohydrate-protein within 30 to 60 minutes are any race or run will help speed up your recovery. Consuming either food or a recovery drink will help replace lost electrolytes and muscle glycogen, while the protein will help to repair and build your muscles.

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Post-run stretching is also vital. If you’re struggling to fit stretching or foam roller session into your routine, try a sports massage.

During your training it’s important to take at least one easy day after every hard day. If you’re training plan asked for a long run, tempo run, or speed work, make sure the next day you’re either running short and slow, cross-training, or giving your body complete rest.

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