After Race Day - What's Next?

by Karl Gruber

All of the soreness has finally vanished from your body. With life flowing back into your legs, and the fact that you are now back to putting in your daily mileage, what is your next step? Is it all about maintaining a strong, healthy body via daily running, is your competitive spirit starting to amp up again – or is it both?

The book, Advanced Marathoning, Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas suggest a good method for marathoning and distance running is setting three types of goals: 

  1. Your marathon career goal – “Your marathon career goal is the level you ultimately hope to achieve. It may be to run a certain time, to qualify for Boston or to make the Olympic team. Your career goal provides long-term direction but does little to provide day-to-day motivation for your training. Your career goal is very personal, and if you share it with others, their reaction may be that you are bragging. Let your career goal fuel the fire of your training, but share it with only a select few confidants.”
  2. Your goals for your next marathon – “Your goals for your next marathon – your outcome goals – establish the framework for your training. Those goals may be to run a personal best time or to better an earlier time on the same course, or they might be tactical goals, such as to run the second half of the marathon as fast as the first half. Once you’ve set your goals for your next marathon, you start the process of determining how to reach those goals. Your training plan should be designed so that your fitness and mental preparation logically progress to help you reach your goals.”
  3. A series of short-term process goals – “Process goals are specific tasks that you perform that contribute toward reaching your goal for the marathon. By focusing on these stepping-stones, you’ll greatly increase your chances of reaching the outcome that you want. Examples of process goals are weekly mileage, getting in a certain number of core stability or flexibility sessions, and times for tempo runs and interval sessions.”

For each runner who has just completed a marathon, the recovery time – both physically and mentally – is highly individualized. For some, like me, my body is usually pretty beat up for three to four days. Then, it’s like someone turns the switch to ON and I’m back. It could take you a couple days or a couple weeks to recover from your race but the key is to simply lace up those running shoes and go out for a run. 

I believe that the three running goals that Pftzinger and Douglas suggested above are a great way to refocus and get back up to marathon distance again in a healthy, intelligent, and fit fashion.
One other thing I would like to suggest, if you aren’t already doing it, is keep a daily running log. This is something I have been doing for the past 37 years and, although may seem bit compulsive, is a wonderful way to go back and review your training. This way you can see what has worked for you and what has not, when your conditioning peaked and what nutrition works well for you during training and racing. 

The bottom line is to keep running and while you may be a “one-and-done” marathoner (which is ok), incorporating some intelligent running goals will keep you on the path to running the good run.

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