Part I - Recovery
So you find yourself in the pleasant valley between your Monumental race and your next big thing. As nice as it is in this valley you know if you stay too long it will become uncomfortable.
Make sure you stay here long enough to recover and to be ready for your next climb but start planning your next ascent now. As Frank Shorter, owner of an Olympic Marathon Gold and Silver medal, once famously quipped, "You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."
After a race that was the focus of your training and maybe a good slice of your real life for a string of months you will need recovery time. You will need to recover and recharge both physically and emotionally. The two cannot be separated and many times the emotional recovery takes a bit longer.
Typically, runners fall into two categories after a big goal race. Some are so ready for a break that the days turn into weeks and then into months until they have let themselves go so far they have an uphill battle to lose the potato chip weight before they can start actually training again. Others are searching race calendars before the weekend is out looking for the next challenge. As with most things in training and life there is a nice balance in between.
This is a great time to drop the physical and mental stress a few notches from the recent pre-race level. For the week or two following a long goal race I like my runners to take time off or run very casually. The running during this time should just be for gentle exercise and mental therapy. I do not want them to think about training. After this break they will begin to work their way back into training with a gradual increase of mileage and intensity back to their normal level.
In most cases they are back to real training in a month but I like to take this on a runner by runner basis. Of course some are ready sooner and others need a little more time. The key is to make sure once we start building and the mileage and intensity is brought back to a boil, they will not need another break until the new training cycle has been completed. A good litmus test is that you should be excited about getting back to it. If not, take some time to examine the reasons why your enthusiasm has abandoned you before forcing yourself back to work.