Q & A: Cycling Your Training

Two super-common, and super-important!, questions I’ve that were sent in about cycling through training seasons. If you’re hitting up a Spring full or half, these are your jam!

Q. How many weeks do I have to taper for? I’m running a half next month.

A. Tapering down from your highest mileage runs and weeks is essential for your legs to be fresh and ready on race morning. I generally recommend two weeks for a half marathon and three weeks for a full.

Swoon. (Courtesy of heyrunnergirl.tumblr.com)

(Courtesy of heyrunnergirl.tumblr.com)

But why? Long runs are exhausting for your body. Even if you’re not sore from them, your body is tired from them and needs time to recover. That’s why you can have that “dead legs” feeling on your runs 24-48 hours after a long run. Weeks and weeks of adding mileage and hammering out speed workouts takes a toll on your muscles.

Do your last “long” run and then slowly ramp down the mileage over the next two (for a half) or three (for a full) weeks and give the heavier weight training a rest while you’re at it. You should show up at the start line itching to run.

Q. How long do I have to wait after one marathon before I can run another one?

A. I’ve written about this topic before but I want to address it a little differently. If you get through your marathon comfortably and recovery normally, you can run another marathon in 6-8 weeks, if you must. 1 week to recover, the 2nd to shake it out, the 3rd to check your ability to get a high-mileage week, the 4th to kick in some speed, and the 5th and 6th to taper back down.

If you struggled through your race or your training cycle was hindered by injuries or terrible runs or fatigue or sickness, you seriously need a rest. You need a PT. You need some time off your legs. You need to build up strength before you build up stamina and try again. I’m talking 6 months off from high mileage training.

(Image courtesy of Zazzle.com)

(Image courtesy of Zazzle.com)

You do yourself a serious disservice by forcing yourself through workout after workout and race after race when your body is breaking down. Stop. Assess your training  Get assessed by a professional. Start over.

Cycling through your training and having both and On- and and Off-season are absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and and getting into tip-top racing form. The pros cycle BIG TIME.

I recommend no more than 3 marathons a year for a 100% healthy runner and 1 if it’s your first time.

Got a question? Email me: runstrongereveryday@gmail.com

Now go out and run!