Post Marathon Training : Novice

About the Novice Program

Recovery after a marathon should begin almost the minute you exit the finish chute. This 5-week post-marathon training program is designed to help Novice runners heal your wounds and recover as rapidly as possible so you can move on to new goals.

Interactive program available on

At a glance

Author: Hal Higdon

Length: 5 Weeks

Typical Week: 2 Day Off, 4 Run, 1 X-Train

Longest Workout: 60 minutes

What do I get?

  • Recover from your last marathon with daily tips from Hal in your inbox
  • Monitor your progress within TrainingPeaks’ online tools, apps, and wearable integrations
  • Access charts and graphs to understand training load
  • Tap into TrainingPeaks experience

Hal on his Novice Program

Monday: In Zero Week, just passed, I recommended that you do very little running. But I did clear you to run for an hour on Sunday with friends to rehash your marathon experience(s). If you followed that advice, you may feel fatigued from what might have seemed like a low-mileage run a month ago. But you’re now in post-marathon mode. Take today off. During the following four weeks, I’m going to tell you how to build back to a steady state of training.

Tuesday: As was the case during the 18-week marathon training program, Tuesday is a day when we do an easy workout. No particular set pace; just go out and run. How about a two-miler today?

Wednesday: Four miles easy. This is a mirror image of the training you did the final (taper) week before the marathon. If four miles seems like too much today (considering the fact that you are still in your post-marathon mode), break the workout in the middle with a brief walk. On many of my easy days when I do this distance, I run two miles out, stop to walk a few minutes and turn around, then run the two miles back. Invariably, the brief break allows me to return at a slightly faster pace than I hit going out.

Thursday: Two miles of gentle jogging–barely enough to work up a sweat. Are you paying attention to your diet? No need to focus totally on carbohydrates, but the diet that worked best for you going into the marathon also works best for you coming out. You need to replenish the glycogen you burned while running 26 miles 385 yards. Studies show that some runners take as much as two to three weeks before they’ve fully replenished their muscles. So remember the staples: pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals, fruits. You may need to also pay attention to calories, since your mileage remains relatively low compared to what it was three weeks before the marathon. So don’t overeat unless your weight has dropped too far below your best training weight.

Friday: Are you caught up with your rest? Before the marathon I told you to make certain that you went into the race well rested. Running 26 miles 385 yards also can serve as an energy drain. Particularly the first several days after the marathon, you may feel you need several hours more of sleep a night. And you do! But you may remain sleep-deprived for longer than several days, maybe even several weeks. So don’t schedule any all-night Friday parties yet. Remember, tomorrow is Saturday, meaning it’s long run time.

Saturday: A run of 30 to 60 minutes. Piece of cake, you say. After all, only a month ago, you banged out a 20-miler. But in your post-marathon mode, a run an hour long can still tax you. So don’t pay that much attention to your watch except for when to start and finish. I don’t care how far you run. I don’t care how fast you run. I don’t even care whether or not you run the entire 30 to 60 minutes! Walk if you feel like doing it. It’s your call as to how many minutes you want to run today. Your body will tell you.

Sunday: This is normally a cross-training day for Novice runners–but remember, it’s perfectly all right to cross-train on Saturday and run long on Sunday. It’s the overall pattern of your training that is most important, not what you do on any one specific day. Assuming you ran the full 30 to 60 minutes yesterday, you might want to settle for an easy walk of an hour today. Or bike, swim, whichever activity was your favorite cross-training regimen while getting ready for the marathon.

TIP OF THE WEEK: In many respects, the base period (when you run easy without worrying about pace or distance) is an extension of the rest period. Usually within a week after finishing a marathon, muscle soreness will almost completely disappear and you can begin running comfortably again. But you need time to stabilize your training. Don’t rush immediately into all-out training for your next goal. If you do, you’re liable to crash some weeks or months later.

Got the pattern? Continue to train gradually for the remaining three weeks of Post Marathon Training. If you want more directions, consider signing up for my interactive version of Post Marathon Training, the Novice edition. Click here!

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Zero Rest Rest Rest 2 m jog Cross 3 m run 60 min run
1 Rest 2 m run 4 m run 2 m run Rest 30-60 min run Cross
2 Rest 3 m run 4 m run 3 m run Rest 45-60 min run Cross
3 Rest 4 m run 5 m run 4 m run Rest 60 min run Cross
4 Rest 5 m run 5 m run 3 m run Rest Rest Race

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