July 25 2018
Choosing a lower mileage training plan for your first marathon may help you avoid unnecessary burnout and injury.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a planned break from running. In fact, it just might be the best thing you can do now to set yourself up to run better. “I have all of my runners take at least a week and up to two weeks off after their last big race of the season,” says Ben Rosario, coach of HOKA One One Northern Arizona Elite, a professional running team based in Flagstaff, Ariz. “Both the body and the mind need a chance to regenerate periodically.”
When you resume running, it’s important that you do so in the right way. Rosario advises getting back to your normal frequency of running right away, whether that’s four runs per week or six, but keeping your runs short initially. Although you might think it would be wise to avoid fast running for the first several weeks, Rosario recommends sprinkling in high-intensity work in small doses.
“You need to make it exciting,” he says. “Doing everything easy is boring.”
The following schedule presents Rosario’s four-week return-to-running plans for low-mileage (unshaded rows) and higher-mileage runners (shaded rows). Here’s a key to the four-zone intensity scale used:
Zone 1 (Z1): Easy. This is an effort level you feel you could sustain indefinitely.
Zone 2 (Z2): Comfortable. Just a bit faster than Zone 1, this is an effort level that still allows you to speak in full sentences without losing your breath.
Zone 3 (Z3): Moderate. This is an effort level you could sustain for 40 to 50 minutes if you’re a beginner or 50 to 60 minutes if you’re already reasonably fit.
Zone 4 (Z4): Hard. Tailor these efforts to the distance or duration of the intervals you’re running. A very short (20-second) Zone 4 effort should be run as a relaxed sprint, whereas a somewhat longer one (300 meters) should be run at the highest speed you could sustain for a mile or so.