Intermediate Marathon Training Guide

Recovery Times

When trying to decide on the training to do athletes often overlook the most important element of training - Recovery.

In particular, not enough consideration to recovering between sessions is given, so first we'll try to explain in simple terms why it is important.

You get fitter in your recoveries, as a reaction to training, not during the sessions you do.

To try to describe this (in an overly simplified way) we'll take 10k pace as a measure of your fitness. When you start a tough session on day 1 you may be able to run 10k in 40 minutes. Immediately after the session you'll be very tired and may only be able to do 50 minutes.

After resting for a day, you may be stiff / sore and capable of 41 minutes, but after resting another day the benefits of the session have kicked in and you are fresh again so maybe you could run 39 minutes.

If you did another tough session on day 2 and then again on day 3 you'd be in a cycle whereby on the subsequent days you'd be slower and slower and eventually this kind of over training would lead to injury or illness.

Recovery between Sessions

For this we can ascertain that recovery is good and that after tough sessions you should either do a light session, a different type of training (eg strength training), or have a rest. We recommend that everyone has at least one rest day a week - even elite athletes.

At most you should be doing three tough sessions in a week at this level, and probably in the high mileage part of training this will be two to leave you fresh enough to do the quantity of training required.

Recoveries on Interval Sessions

In a fartlek or standard interval session you will need some recovery in order to be able to run the pace required. With marathon training this never needs to be a full recovery, with 3-4 minutes being the longest you are likely to need. Generally, we recommend less than this to maintain a high heart rate throughout the session.

If you are doing an active recovery (as you obviously would in a fartlek!) then this allow you to build a little more mileage and use lactate (a by produced of anaerobic or faster paced running) as an energy source, which is an advantage.

One way to try to speed up your recovery is to do some good static stretches (holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds) on the major muscles that have been used during running. This should be done after the session, but before a cool down jog. The intention is to return muscles to their pre-exercise length.

Recovery Runs

These are often used to supplement mileage and to loosen an athletes legs on a light training day. This is fine, but we stick to our recommendation that all athletes should have one total rest day a week with no exercise at all to allow the body to recover well and therefore allow for peak performances.

Learn more / further reading

  1. Starting Point
  2. Training Paces
  3. How far and how often should I run?
  4. Tracking your Training
  5. Eating the right food
  6. Preparation Races and Race Day
  7. What Clothing and Shoes do I need?

Remember, if this all seems a bit daunting, we can put together a schedule prepared specifically for you from our team of experienced coaches with our Online Coaching.















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