Did I put a picture of a sleeping kitten to attract people to the blog? No comment.
Last weekend, Galen Rupp ran an indoor two-mile race in 8:07.41. This was an American record and the seventh fastest time ever. As much attention as his race received, his post-race workout may have gotten even more. Rupp took fifteen minutes off and then hit the track for mile repeats – he went 4:21, 4:20, 4:20, 4:16 and 4:01 (with 400m recovery in between each rep). That is some impressive stuff. While I feel like it was a bit of a publicity stunt (and a successful one at that), I would not recommend trying it yourself.
Racing takes a lot out of you, and if you don’t recover properly, you are going to significantly increase the likelihood of getting an injury. Of course, recovery is different for everyone. It might mean taking a day off. It might mean going for an easy run the next day. It might just mean lowering your mileage total for that week. The point is, I wouldn’t recommend running mile repeats shortly after your race (as Amby Burfoot wrote in Runner’s World, we’ll leave those workouts to Galen http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/opinion-galen-rupps-training-is-ridiculously-rational).
Personally, after a race, I run a cooldown that is a couple of miles. I will also take it easy for the next day or two, depending upon my level of soreness. Often, I will wear compression socks to help with my recovery.
Here’s an easy rule of thumb: the number of recovery days you need will equal the number of miles of the race.
5k = 3 recovery days
10k = 6 recovery days
half marathon = 13 recovery days
marathon = 26 recovery days
Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run during that time. It doesn’t even mean you shouldn’t do hard workouts. It just means that you might be at an increased risk of injury if you push too hard and you shouldn’t expect to perform your best within those recovery windows.