How To Maintain Progress

What’s Included?

  • Immediately after a race
  • Long-term goals
  • Strategies for maintaining

HOW TO MAINTAIN AFTER A RACE

You just finished the race or event that you’ve been training for throughout the past few weeks or months – and now you’re wondering what you can do to keep it going… It’s easy to assume that “jumping back in” as soon as possible will give you the biggest advantage in making more progress, but that’s not the case.

Proper rest is CRUCIAL after a goal event or race – and the longer the race (half marathon, marathon, ultra, etc.) the longer you need to recover. During this rest and recovery period, it’s important to get back to 100% before pushing hard again otherwise you risk injury (which could totally derail any progress you had made). It’s natural and normal for your “fitness” to temporarily decrease during this period of rest, and while it can be uncomfortable and challenging – it’s CRUCIAL to your long-term progress as a runner.

How long this recovery and rest period takes will depend upon the runner and the event since each of us has different recovery times, we all race at different effort levels, and we all have different goals. Here are some guidelines to follow after your race:

MARATHON:

Take at least 1-2 weeks off from running (you can still incorporate shorter low impact activities like walking as long as it’s in smaller doses like 20-30 minutes). After this, spend another 1-2 weeks slowly incorporating easy miles & returning to your normal training as you feel comfortable.

HALF MARATHON:

Take at least 5-7 days (or more if needed) off from running (you can still incorporate shorter low impact activities like walking as long as it’s in smaller doses). After this, you can start to incorporate short and easy runs as you return back to your base.

10K & 5K:

Take a few days off from running to focus on full recovery (or more if needed). Remember, recovery can come in many forms: physical, mental, motivation, etc.


HOW TO MAINTAIN LONG TERM GOALS:

When deciding upon next steps with your long-term goals, ask yourself what you’re wanting to accomplish as you move forward with…

  • The next month of your journey
  • The next season of your journey
  • The next year of your journey
  • The next 3 years of your journey
  • Your entire running career

This can seem like a LOT to think about, but it’s important in figuring out HOW you can use the short term (this upcoming year) to reach those goals. Check out these examples…

RUNNER #1:

Just accomplished a 4:00 marathon and wants to accomplish…

  • A marathon PR (sub 4:00) next year
  • A Boston Qualifying marathon time within the next 3 years

RUNNER #2:

Just started her running journey & wants to accomplish…

  • Increased consistency by running or walking 3x per week
  • Her first 5K next year

RUNNER #3:

Just started to incorporate strength training & wants to accomplish…

  • A balanced routine with running and strength
  • A half marathon PR next year

Each of these runners have VERY different backgrounds & will need to use very different strategies in order to maintain their progress & continue making progress towards THEIR own specific long-term goals. By taking time to reflect upon where you’re at & where you want to go, you can start to lay the foundation & determine the steps you can take to get there.


STRATEGIES FOR MAINTAINING

STAY CONSISTENT:

Consistency is the MOST important factor when it comes to maintaining your progress. How much & how often you continue to run will depend upon your current ability level, your short and long-term goals, and your schedule & availability. During the colder winter months, some runners may choose to pull back a bit on mileage & incorporate more strength or cross-training – but just remember, staying ACTIVE and CONSISTENT will pay off when you start training for your next big goal.

BUILD YOUR BASE:

Base building is done when you build both mileage and/or strength – especially during the “off” season from races. A strong base will build your endurance, prevent injuries, and give you a great starting point once you get back to race training. To build your base, you can focus on mileage with increased easy miles while also increasing your effort with strength training and cross training. Base building focuses less on speed and more on allowing your body to rest and recover while ALSO building it up to handle more work with less effort.

TAKE DOWN WEEKS & RECOVERY DAYS:

Every few weeks, you should aim to take a down week or a recovery week, even if you’re in a base-building phase. For example – if a runner is doing 15 miles during week one of base building, 18 miles during week two, 23 miles during week three, they should aim for a down week during week four before continuing to build. A down week is a reduction of 20-30% of your mileage & helps you recover & prevent injuries. For example – the runner above might do 17 miles during their down week before continuing to build.

ADD SOME VARIETY:

Adding some variety to your routine can help to keep it both FUN and CHALLENGING – which can definitely contribute to progress. Add some variety with different styles of runs (long runs, progression runs, fartleks, intervals) and don’t forget to sprinkle in some strength and cross-training! Variety can also be added in the form of new gear, a new gym, new running routes, or even joining a challenge or community for some extra accountability!

FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESSES:

What did you find challenging during this season? Focus on THAT as you move forward. Whether it’s speed, form, cadence, fueling, or something else entirely – take this as an opportunity to work on these areas to keep making progress. Do some reflection on these past 10 weeks to figure out what you can focus on. Do your research to figure out HOW you can focus on it – and just START. This is your opportunity to do the work & make some changes and improvements before your next season!


Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

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