You've just finished your goal marathon and, if you felt anything like I have in the last 10K of a marathon, you swore off running another one as soon as you wrapped yourself in that Mylar blanket.
However, the memories of that tough last 10K quickly fade, and you might wonder when you can race the marathon again.
If you had a great race, you might be tempted to keep training to see how far can push your new PR. If you had a bad day, you might spend the next few hours searching the Internet for the soonest possible race, where you can extract revenge. Worst yet, have a mediocre race—especially if it's the result of something out of your control—and you won't be able to get the "what if" scenarios out of your mind.
Regardless of the outcome of your race, the question in your mind quickly becomes, "How long should I wait between marathons for optimal performance?"
If your only goal at a marathon is to finish, have fun and enjoy the travel, then by all means, go ahead and race to your heart's content. However, if you desperately want to qualify for Boston or finally break that 3- or 4-hour barrier, then it's imperative you structure your long-term training to maximize fitness and progression without burning out.
- Why the recovery process is critical
- The importance of training different energy systems to make continual gains
- How taking a long-term view of your training will enable you to toe the starting line for your next marathon fitter than you've ever been