The Cool-Down: What’s Next? Taking Time Off, Starting Up Again

The Cool-Down: What’s Next? Taking Time Off, Starting Up AgainYou’ve spent weeks preparing for your race, focusing on crossing the Finish Line and accomplishing your goals.  Now, what about after the race?

*Physical recovery after a 5K isn’t a lengthy process, but you still need to take some time off to recharge, and to also avoid the post-race excitement and temptation to immediately train right away for your next event.

It typically takes about one day to recover for every mile that you raced.  After your 5K then, you can plan to resume normal training if you choose after just three days.  From May 11 through May 14  it’s fine to completely rest, or to walk or jog for the same number of minutes that you’d usually run on average training days. If you’re worried about losing conditioning and giving up the progress that you made building up to the race, put those fears aside.  In fact it’s during the recovery process that our muscles repair themselves and become even stronger, so invest in a few days off for yourself.

While recovering, take some time to analyze your race, and to use your experience as background to help you to prepare for upcoming races, or general running experiences.  What went well?  What could be improved upon? What about the race was the most exciting for you? This is also a good time to re-evaluate your training program and to select new goalsA few suggestions to mull over, from competitive racing goals to a variety of non-competitive goals:

*Racing Goals:

The safest, least competitive racing goal would be to extend the distance of your longest race to date.  If Saturday’s 5K was your longest effort, you could think about entering a race that’s in the 4-mile to 10K range.  Finishing will continue to be a reward; only now the distance will be a bigger challenge.

Other competitive goals are to improve your time over the same distance, then to improve your time over a variety of distances.  Record your PRs (Personal records) and then set about on improving them over time.

A more competitive goal is to aim to place in a race (overall, or within your age/and or gender category).  Or, aim to finish within a certain percentage of the field or your age group.  Percentages often sound more impressive, as in saying that you finished in the top 50% of the NYC Marathon vs. finishing 15, 132nd!

*Non-Competitive Goals:

If you don’t love competition, there are plenty of other ways beyond racing to define success for yourself as a runner or fitness walker and to find the inspiration you need to stay active.

Experiment with different types of terrain, perhaps taking your running off road onto the trails.  Trail running has an entirely different feel than road running, so dedicating a few workouts per week to it would both challenge you and give you a specific non-racing goal to pursue.  This may also be a good time to try out some of the fun ‘Adventure’ races, like the Muddy Buddy series.

Beef up the social aspects of running by looking into running/walking groups, or by setting up your own group comprised of friends/family.  Particularly if you typically workout alone, you may find this more social approach to be both a welcomed change, and a challenge to stay accountable.

Many runners like to follow a structured training plan with no intention of actually racing.  You might enjoy the prospect of challenging yourself with increased distance or paced runs simply to see your own improvements in those areas.

>Even without a formal training plan you could challenge yourself by giving every workout/ run/walk a dedicated purpose.  One day might be speed work, another slow paced longer distance and/or hill repeats, and yet another a recovery/social run with friends.  Your aim here is to mix things up but to make sure that every workout has a definite purpose and to know what the benefits will be before you head out the door.

So, once you’ve celebrated your success from The Race in the Park, give yourself a bit of down time before setting up your next competitive or non-racing goal…Then  spice things up and enjoy the ride!

It was wonderful to be involved with you during your CT Race in the Park training…You Rock the House!…And the ‘Word of the Day’ is…Thank You!


Pam Landry

Pam Landry

Dedicated CT RACE IN THE PARK Coach

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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