Thoughts On Maintaining Your Running Fitness Levels After Race Day
If you’ve ever trained for a 10k/half marathon or marathon, you’ll know much of an effort it is when you’re starting from scratch.
The first few long runs are a shock to the system and the peak stages of your schedule can seem overwhelming if you’re new.
You don’t have to start from scratch with your training every time.
There’s nothing worse than dusting off your running shoes for the first time in 6 months on New Year’s Day only to find you can’t run 0.5 mile without gasping for breath.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you maintain your running to even a small degree, you’ll be more ready for your next training schedule.
Building on past work
I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve earned a fucking break Angry Jogger! There’s nothing wrong with resting for a few months is there?”
My point is that you don’t have to maintain the intensity that you had during your earlier training runs.
If it’s a choice between running at a more relaxed pace over shorter distances and giving up on running altogether, always chose the former option.
It gives you something to build from.
Running 10 miles on a weekend is much easier once you’ve been through a training cycle that demands 20 miles. You don’t have to lose that stamina.
You can capitaise on the fitness you’ve gained during your training and let it propel you forwards towards future races, knowing that the build up to the run won’t be as challenging as your first time.
I learnt about maintaining my fitness the hard way.
When I hit 280lbs in 2010 I was devastated that I’d let myself slip that far. Back in 2008 I managed to reduce my weight from 250lbs to 220lbs and had built up a reasonable level of fitness from using the treadmill.
I could walk 10 miles without much effort.
Then I stopped exercising, assuming that walking would always be easy.
Fast forward to 2010 and I couldn’t walk a mile without being in quite a bit of pain.
It was humiliating.
It was then that I resolved to never let myself slip that far again.
So in 2013 I’m running 10 miles as often as I can so that I’m always ready for a half marathon.
It also means I can start to train for a marathon with only 2 months training instead of 4 and I don’t worry so much when the 18 and 20 milers start to come think in fast.
With this atitude I’ll never slip back to where I was at my heaviest. I can keep moving forward.
If you’re perpetually training then you’ll always be ready when a race comes around that you want to run.
3 tips on how to keep moving forward with your training after a race
- Set yourself a minimum fitness level you want to sustain and sustain it – For me that is being able to complete a half marathon in around the 2:00-2:05 region without too much bother. It doesn’t have to be an ambitious goal, use it as your minimum and work up from there.
- Focus on consistency – You’re in this for the long haul and will build up your fitness steadily over time. If you rush it you risk becoming injured. If you take it too easy, you’ll get bored and quit. Find the level that you’re happy training at and maintain it.
- Don’t let the post race blues kill your training – After half marathons and marathons I tend to feel like shit for no reason and my training suffers as a result. Being down like this is quite normal and will pass within time. In the meantime keep doing what you can with both exercise and your diet.