Ask-a-Salty – Training From One Marathon to the Next

Got questions? Just ask!

Ask-a-Salty is the nifty feature where you ask the questions and we give you the answers. If you have a question about training, racing or running in general ask us here and maybe you’ll be featured in our next Ask-a-Salty post!

Today’s question comes from Jackie who,  like Mint, just ran a big PR in Chicago. (Big congrats, Jackie!!!) She asks:

Chicago was my second marathon, I have my third marathon on the calendar for the end of February. What is the best way for me to recover from Chicago while transitioning into a new training cycle? I have 18 weeks until RnR New Orleans. Thank you in advance for any thoughts you might have!

If your next race is 18 weeks from now that means you have 20 weeks between Chicago and your next race in New Orleans. Here’s what I recommend to ease the transition from marathon recovery back up to marathon training.

I recommend you do 8 weeks of recovery to base building followed by a 12 week marathon training plan. (With 18 weeks to go, you, Jackie, will be in week 3 of this plan.) Remember, you want to be sure you’re recovered and strong when you start your next training plan! Giving yourself 8 weeks to recover and slowly increase your miles back up without over-stressing your body is key.

Speaking of this training plan, it should be a modest increase in mileage from the plan you used for Chicago. If you peaked at 50 miles per week for Chicago, then a reasonable mileage peak for New Orleans would be 60 miles per week. I will breakdown the 8 week recovery to base-building phase and from there you can jump into your 12 week training plan for the next marathon!  The same approach can be used between half-marathons or even for someone preparing to train to race their first half or full marathon. I’d cut the long runs back by 2 miles per run for half-training, though.


Week 1: 0 miles. ZERO. NOTHING. No cross-training other than some light walking. Maybe some light stretching or yoga if that’s your thing, but otherwise give your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and brain a little time to recharge.

Week 2: 5 short runs. I’d keep these all very easy and under an hour in duration.

Week 3:  Run 50% of your goal mileage peak for your next training cycle. That means if you are planning to peak at 60 miles per week in your training for New Orleans, run 30 miles this week. Make them ALL easy again, except do 6 x 30 second strides with full recovery within 2 runs (we’ll call these “runs with strides” and they are to be done on any run other than your long run. Also, make sure to have at least one day off or a run with no strides in between stride runs).

Week 4: Run 60% of your goal mileage peak. Run easy again for most runs except the 2 runs with strides. Make one run an easy 10 miler. 36 miles total using our example.

Week 5: Run 70% of your goal mileage peak with 2 runs with strides and one run a 12 miler. 42 miles total using our example.

Week 6: Run 80% of your goal mileage peak with 2 runs with strides and one run a 13 miler. 48 miles total using our example.

Get plenty of recovery time before you start training for your next marathon and you’ll be smiling just like Jackie did with her mom after Chicago!

Week: 7: Run 80% of your goal mileage peak with 2 runs with strides and one run a 14 miler 48 miles total using our example.

Week 8: Run 90% of your goal mileage peak with 2 runs with strides and one run a 14 miler. 54 miles total using our example.

Week 9: Begin 12 week training plan for New Orleans!

It’s ok if your 12 week training plan has you step back in mileage for the first couple of weeks as it will likely be introducing new intensity (harder running) to the mix.

Good luck, Jackie! Let us know how it goes!!!


What say you Salty Readers? How do you transition from recovery after one big race to training for the next one?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. I would agree that the number one consideration for the first several weeks should be recovery. Sometimes we ignore our recovery too much if we are focused on a new goal. Big mistake. This could lead you to injury and take you out for a whole season. So be flexible the first 8 weeks. Are you really sore after your runs? You need more time. Listen closely to your body. And good luck!

  2. Thank you for the advice! I was trying to throw in a tempo run this week, and couldn’t figure out why I felt so sluggish. My body just wasn’t ready. I never thought recovery would take more than a couple weeks. I still find myself needing more sleep. Recovery in motion isn’t easy!

    Totally blew the whole “no running for the first week” thing. Did an easy 4 on Thursday, then tried to do 8-9 on Sunday (I had to cut it at 6 because my legs and lungs were strongly protesting). I was attempting a reverse taper, but didn’t have it in me.

    This week I am on track to put in about 27 miles, which should be 50% of my goal mileage peak. We’ll see how it goes!