Recovering from the Marathon and Bouncing Back for 5ks

So I’m really excited to write this post. Really excited.

It’s been 1 week since I qualified for Boston with a 3:04:10. It’s likely I won’t actually meet the cutoff time to register for the most renowned marathon in the world, BUT…I got the BQ. I guess the old saying is right: Third time’s a charm (the Portland Marathon was my 4th marathon, but only my 3rd time going after a BQ).


Val rarely misses a race. She’s definitely my biggest supporter.

I knew before marathon day that I would need to really focus on recovery immediately after the race. It was highly likely that a local food bar company, Betsy’s Best bar none (B3N), was going to be sponsoring an upcoming race and I had a feeling it was going to be really soon. Turns out I was right. They decided to sponsor two races and the first, the Race for the Rescues, was yesterday. I opted for the 5k distance as there was no way I was going to push my body to race a 10k only a week after giving the 26.2 everything I had. So with a 5k to get my body ready to race, proper and speedy recovery was absolutely necessary.

I’ve never had to actually try to recover. What I mean is, I’ve only just let recovery happen naturally. Typical stuff: sleep more, rest more, run a bit less, eat well, etc. But with just less than 7 days to bounce back, I needed to be much more active in my recovery approach. Below are sectioned details of how I consciously sped up my recovery in order to race a 5k one week after a personal best and Boston qualifying marathon time. I was hoping for my fastest 5k time (previous PR set back in 2012: 17:50), and despite some confusion and running off-course and through dirt, I was able to achieve that in what was approximately 17:04.

11  13

And they’re off! Sporting Betsy’s Best bar none who sponsored me for the Race for the Rescues 5k. 

Nutrition during the week: I didn’t set out to eat more calories and I didn’t set out eat less calories. Instead, I ate every calorie with a purpose. Granted, I may have eaten more calories but as I don’t count my calorie intake, I have no way of knowing for sure and, in any case, I didn’t plan to do so. I knew that hydration was something I really needed to focus on so I increased my water intake by quite a lot. As you lose electrolytes every time you pee, I knew I had to make sure that I took in more electrolytes than usual. For this I looked to extra bananas (3 a day at least; a couple of days I had 5) and I also added salt–for sodium, which is the electrolyte that is most lost when you work out and sweat–to my breakfast oatmeal and my dinners. I ate a very good amount of starchy carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal or muesli (every day for breakfast), pasta, and potatoes to restock my glycogen stores. Lastly, I made sure I had protein at every meal. In the morning, I added cacao powder, flax seeds, and chia seeds to my oatmeal. For lunch, I brought along a Nii bar to ensure some protein intake although I eat nearly entirely fruits and veggies at lunch (apple, bananas, carrots, spinach, celery). And for dinner it was a mix of lentils, quinoa, and soy (tofu or tempeh) with veggies and a starchy carb.

19  16


16  8

Peanut butter chocolate-chip toast and chocolate chip pancakes…Carbs right? 

I was very conscious of my nutrition this past week and was overly set on eating mindfully to ensure I was taking care of what my body needed to recover well.

Running: I knew I needed at least a couple of days of complete rest. I could have perhaps got a couple of miles in on Tuesday but I decided to give it another day just in case. As you will be able to see, I eased into running again with an easy 2 miler and since I felt good, I decided to run another 4 later after work. Thursday’s and Friday’s runs were really able to get the movement back into my legs. I didn’t test speed until Friday’s 5.5 miler, when I decided include a two miles between 6:28 and 6:35 pace to get some decent speed and turnover back into my legs. I was careful not to overdo any of the running and took a complete rest day Saturday to let my legs rest up for the 5k.

Sunday: Marathon

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 2mi AM run (easy pace); 4mi PM run (7:34/mi avg.)

Thursday: 5mi easy pace

Friday: 5.5mi (6:58 avg.)

Saturday: Rest day (aside from stretching my legs with some dynamic stretching and light jogging < quarter mile)

Sunday: 5k (17:04 watch time)


A huge majority of the people at the race ran with their dogs. It was so cool to see so many fit four legged friends out on the course! 


Betsy’s Best bar none is a super tasty food bar unlike any other food bar I’ve had before. They have unique flavors such as chili chocolate chip (pictured; talk about a kick!), savory rosemary, and orange poppyseed. Their peppermint chocolate chip and chili chocolate chip have to be my favorite though. They’re Portland-made so I love that I can support a local business and fuel with their product as well. Vegan, soy-free, gluten free, organic…it goes on and one with B3N.

Sleep: Another important part of recovery is sleep. I didn’t increase the amount of hours I slept, but I never felt any kind of fatigue that was unusual. I sleep and slept anywhere from 6 – 7.5 hours.

So that’s how my recovery has been. I’d like to say that I’m completely recovered, but there is not way that is possible only a week from a marathon race. Even though I had a great 5k race yesterday and am not sore or feeling sluggish in anyway, I know I need to still think “recovery” for this week. As I have another race this coming Sunday with Betsy’s Best as my sponsor, I’ll be tip-top with my nutrition, stretching, and running just enough and nothing extra to ensure a healthy race.

Question time: How do you recover from your races? What does the following look like for you: nutrition, running, rest, stretching, sleep, etc.? What’s the shortest or longest amount of time it took you to recover from a race or hard workout and what was the distance or workout? I’d love to chat about these topics and any other comments or questions you have!

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who has been racing this fall season, especially to those tackling racing and/or new distances for the first time! 


8 thoughts on “Recovering from the Marathon and Bouncing Back for 5ks

  1. Pingback: Dealing with a Running Slump | EAT, RUN, AND DONE.

  2. Pingback: Foot Traffic Holiday Half & 5k: Recap & Lessons Learned | EAT, RUN, AND DONE.

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