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Post Race… Now What?

After an event…. Now what?

There are always a lot of questions after a race or event. Many have the annoying answer of 'it depends,' but I have some more specific answers for some.

Joshua Brimhall,  Guitar Doctor Joshua Moore, and Will Baldwin myself after the Pemberton 50k trail race in Fountain Hills, Arizona
Brimhall, Jmo, and myself after the Pemberton 50k

I just finished my race; when can I start running again?

Well, that depends ;)

For marathons and longer races most runners need between 4-14 days OFF. No training, no running, no cross-training. It's crucial to actually listen to your body and not be rigid with the return to training-plan. Every race leaves us feeling differently. Sometimes, it's just a few days, and all systems are back on and ready to get after it again. Sometimes, we take two full weeks off and then another few weeks of very light jogging before our body starts to feel good again. If you cheat or rush this process, you can dig a hole that can take months to dig out of. We have to respect our body and our mind's recovery process. Honor it, acknowledge it, and give it its due time.

While we're not running, this can often be an excellent time to have more fun and do some of the things we don't usually do as often during hard training. During this period, we have more time to ski, play pickup basketball, stay out later at a bar with our buddies, focus more on yoga and flexibility, spend a lot of time in a hot tub, go walk our dogs more, etc. Take advantage of that time you've been preserving for only running. Let your body be the guide.

Can I run the day after my marathon or my ultra marathon?

Yes! You can! But why would you do that? And why are you even able to do that?

It's not impossible, but you have to ask yourself why you want to go for a run the day after a long race? Do you have a run streak going? Are you worried you're going to lose fitness? (You're not). Do you just love running every day? Are you nervous about taking a day off? These are just questions to ask yourself that might open some other conversations.

Why are you able to run shortly after a long race? This a situation I come across regularly. I often have athletes who are ready to run and feel completely fine a few days after very long and challenging races.

Sometimes, people just recover really quickly. But the real question to think about is why you are doing an event and what do you want out of it.

This is complicated because often, what people tell me they think they want, their actions tell a very different story.

There are many reasons why an athlete chooses to do an event. They might be trying to run a new PR. They might just be trying to challenge themselves to do hard things and push their limits. Sometimes, they just want to see and experience a unique and beautiful landscape. Like at Sundog, we put on the Stagecoach 100 that ends at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Some folks aren't there to compete. They just want to run a beautiful race safely and then go see one of the seven wonders of the world!

But often in races, we are trying to run fast and push ourselves. In most scenarios, races should be the most challenging runs we do the entire year. It's the longest continuous period of HARD running. If we run races where we're really pushing to discover our limits, we're going to need some serious downtime to recover. Embrace that balance. If you run your goal race and 3 days later you feel fine, reflect and see if you could be pushing more and getting more out of yourself in races.

When should I start doing harder workouts again?

For most people, most of the time, we're going to have an off/recovery period, then a period of just easy running for a few weeks, and then we would start looking at working out again. It's probably about a month, give or take, in most instances for marathon races or longer. We can probably workout in 4-7 days after a shorter race.

Will Baldwin racing on the road in Tucson

What should I be doing after my race?

Celebrating and reflecting!

Celebrate the gift of being able to train and race! Thank our family for helping you navigate the training block. Thank your training partners. Thank your body.

Reflect. Ask yourself if you wish you had done anything differently. Do you wish you had trained more? Do you wish you had set up a better training routine? Is there something you need to add into the next training block? This time right after a race often leaves us inspired and with new insights on what we can do to improve. Harness that motivation and make an action plan! Let's get to work on the next one!

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