Half Marathon Training

Steve’s Half Marathon Training: RECOVERY!

Hello fellow runners,

I hope you are well on this Monday morning. There were some big races over the weekend. The big one was the New York Marathon. After years of African dominance in the women’s race, Shalene Flanagan won the women’s marathon. Seeing a non-African runner on top of the podium is a rare occurrence- she is the first American winner in 40 years. To make Shalene Flanagan’s achievement in New York even more remarkable, is the fact that she is 40 years old. Starting running in your 20’s or 30’s might seem like you’ve missed the fast running stage of your life, however it is common for runners, especially marathon runners, to get faster with age. Yes, your peak speed might have been in your mid twenties, but as you age your endurance doesn’t suffer and is very trainable.

There was another story last week that warmed the heart of runners back home in Ireland. A local man Gary O’Hanlon ran the Dublin Marathon which doubled as the Irish National Marathon Championships. He was seen celebrating crossing the line, thinking he had won, only to find out that a Kenyan national was ahead of him, who was registered with a Dublin club. After a lengthy appeal process, he was later reinstated after it was found out that the Kenyan runner didn’t meet the residency criteria. This story was more impressive, owing to the fact that Gary is over 40 years old. After a 20 year break from running, he started back into running in his late 30s. His time for the Dublin marathon was 2 hours 18 minutes, the fastest Irish marathon over 40, ever. The take home message from these stories is that it’s never too late to start. You might not reach their level, but you can achieve what you previously thought was an impossible physical feat.


Recovery was the topical word for this weeks training schedule. After a race I will do as much as possible to rest and recover, in order to get back to a normal training load. Monday was a rest day, the legs were in bits from the race the day before. Stretching isn’t the best idea that soon after the race, so I took complete rest on Monday. On Tuesday I ran very easy on the treadmill, as the crosss trainers at the gym are relics! The rest of the week consisted of mostly easy running and foam rolling. Active recovery is more beneficial than rest, when the intensity is low enough. The rule of thumb for taking recovery after races is 1 day per 3 km you raced. This would mean for me, taking one week as rest or recovery. By Thursday I was back to near 100% levels. The guidlines are good for novice runners, but if your well trained and fit, you should be near 100% in less time. Saying that, after racing the number one priority should be recovery. If the recovery process is done right, you will gain a big fitness and strength boost.


Race distances and recovery periods

Side note: By racing I mean a 100% effort, the recovery period will be less for a race where you are doing it for workout purposes.

400m to 3km races will take 2-4 days to recover from.

5km and 10km races will take 2-5 days to recover from.

Half marathons can take anywhere between 1 week to several weeks to fully recover from.

Top tip: Take complete rest a day or two after a race. Start active recovery (easy running or cross training) 3 or more days after the event. This way you will have good form and be strong enough to do the runs.


Weekly diary:

Monday //Rest

Tuesday //30 easy on treadmill

Wednesday //35 easy on the treadmill

Thursday// Rest

Friday// 35 easy on treadmill

Saturday //30 easy with 4×100 m strides @ 18km/h on treadmill

Sunday// 30 minutes easy followed by 5min Tempo with 5 min recovery x2


I’m looking forward to the next half marathon in Suncheon next Sunday, wish me luck! I’m hoping for a personal best time, with tthe weather looking perfect and a fast, flat course. What upcoming races are you training for?

Until next time,

Happy running

Steve 🙂

The Health Heads



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