Congratulations, you've completed your goal of running a marathon! Here are a few tips to help you decide on your next fitness goal.
The importance of recovery
If you've recently finished a marathon, there's no harm in taking a few days off from your running routine. Competitor Running magazine reported that top runners often rest for as many as 7 to 10 days after completing a marathon. This rest period is important because your body needs time to recover from the stress placed on it during the the event.
In addition to muscle recovery, your body recovers in several ways, including cellular repair and immune system strengthening. Resting, stretching and maintaining a healthy diet during the period immediately following a marathon give your body time to heal naturally.
Not fully satisfied with your marathon time? After an adequate period of recovery, consider engaging in a phase of speed training. According to Runner's Connect, a two-week phase focused on short, intense workouts can help you see desired speed gains.
Rather than running long distances, a speed-training phase uses a series of short runs to train your muscles and help you practice breathing techniques. For instance, you could run 400 meters as fast as possible several times in an hour, while keeping a close eye on your blood oxygen levels. Check out the guide here.
Flexibility is extremely important for runners, but many marathon training programs neglect to put much focus on stretching. Flexibility reduces your risk of injury and can help you maintain speed and endurance during your next race. If you feel tightness in your lower back, thighs or calves when you bend to tie your shoes, there's a good chance that flexibility practice will benefit your running routine.
To increase your flexibility, you need to do more than stretch before a run. Consider taking a yoga class to practice holding stretches for long periods. Plus, the breathing exercises common in some yoga practices can help you maintain a steady breath when running.
Though you won't see many professional runners with bulging muscles, weight training is still something you should consider. According to Runner's World magazine, strength training can help you reach your speed goals by building leg muscle power.
To get the most out of a weight training program, use this method: Start with a light weight you can lift comfortably for about 12 repetitions. Then, gradually increase the weight and perform fewer reps each time. On your last set, you should be able to do between four and six repetitions.