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Marathon Training - Recovery Days

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'26.2' - The Marathon Training Website:

An Overlooked Part Of Marathon Training

Are you looking ahead to your next marathon? Or maybe youíre just thinking of maintaining a good level of running fitness. In either case you need to be aware of one key area of your training that many runners overlook, especially when they are following a fixed schedule for a specific marathon date.

Have you ever heard someone say:

 Iíve run every day for the last year!

 I say to those folks who can say this or make similar boasts - good luck! Your body needs time to recover. This is one of the major training principles you need to keep in mind when you are marathon training. Or even just running regularly, say five times a week. Your risk of injury increases as the weeks go by. It also goes up with age and with the intensity of your runs.

 I personally know many runners who have ignored the warning signs, got injured but recovered and then went onto to do the marathon. The only problem; Ė they finished an hour over their expected time, and in a lot more pain. Iím as guilty as anyone because Iíve done the same thing.   One time in the Columbus, Ohio marathon my hamstrings started hurting at the half-way point! I struggled on to the finish, but if Iíd had a $20 bill with me I think I would have caught a cabÖ


Lesson Learned!

So what is the best way to avoid these unpleasant incidents. The answer is fairly straightforward:

  • Rest Days

  • Nutrition

  • Taking care of your body


Rest Days 

Donít think of these as days off!!

Rest days are an essential part of your training just as much as hill-work or the long run. Remember, the goal of your training is to build up your strength to handle the 26.2 mile distance Ė itís not to run every day or to run as fast as you can every time you go out.

The recovery days should be strategically built into your schedule for maximum recovery benefit. For example I try to spread two rest days over each weekís training. One of them coming within two days after the long run day, once Iím over the 15 mile mark

So, what do you do on your rest day? This is a good time to take care of any aches and pains (see below). You can also read articles on running and marathon training, and generally motivate yourself for the rest of the training week.



What you eat can and will affect your bodyís ability to recover from the runs. You have to re-build muscle tissue, so make sure you are getting enough protein. Fresh vegetables are an excellent source of nutrients and donít forget to drink plenty of water. You can read more on this topic on our Marathon Training Diet page.


Look After Your Body

 Got an ache or pain? Donít just pop an Ibuprophen tablet (although this does help reduce swelling) and


 then hope for the best. Try icing the sore area two or three times a day. Gentle massage can help also. If you feel the pain when you walk, then itís more serious. If you donít ease off on the training or get professional help, it will most likely become an issue that will impact your schedule.

I believe may of the problems we run into (excuse the pun) are caused by what I call the 'marathon mindset', which goes something like this:

 "Because the marathon is a tough race, I have to be tough to complete it, so I have to push yourself to become tough"!

 You get the idea? Although there is some truth in this, - sure we all have to try harder - you also have to have a scientific approach. Experienced coaches know this, and get their athletes to apply the right approach to the strength building-recovery cycle.


In conclusion, itís up to you whether you follow this or not. But if you convince yourself that recovery is just as important as all the other training techniques you are following, then you are well on the way to completing a successful marathon training program. Youíll run a better race as well.



Produced by Marius Bakken, an Olympic runner and marathon coach. Marius' program has a wealth of training information including

  • A 120 page guide,

  • 8 different training schedules

  • 25 instructional videos.

Here's what Grete Waitz's husband & coach has to say about Marius' program:   "Marius Bakken has used his unique experience as a world-class runner to put together one of the most comprehensive marathon products I have seen.  Marius' experience and knowledge of modern training techniques will benefit  runners, from the beginner to the experienced marathoner."

- Jack Waitz, husband/coach of 9 time NYC marathon winner Grete Waitz

****  Get more info' on the 100 Day Training Program  ****



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