Transition Time: Tweaking your Training After a Longer Race

May 19, 2019

Running expert Nate Vandervest shares some tips for transitioning from a longer race to the Bellin Run 10K

Spring is here and many runners and walkers are well into full on training mode. Those training for a spring half marathon or marathon have been at it for months — and many of you finished a big local race this weekend. Congratulations! Getting ready to tackle such long race distances takes a lot of time and consistency. It is this same time and consistency that will also help you achieve your 10K Bellin Run goal — and even do well at the shorter 5K distance.

Every year half marathoners and marathoners are surprised they run so well for a 10K race. The reality is that it isn’t much of a surprise at all. All of these events are endurance events, meaning they require heavy reliance on the aerobic system. The marathon is 98 percent to100 percent aerobic, while the 10K is 90 to 95 percent aerobic. Yes, there is a sliver of anaerobic ability for the 10K, but mostly the distance revolves around having trained the cardiac and respiratory system. 

When training for a half marathon or marathon you work a lot on building this aerobic system.  Building a bigger “engine” also leads to being able to run shorter distances at a faster pace. This is the reason so many people who tackle longer distances in early spring do so well with many of the shorter distance races all summer long.

So how does a person transition from a half marathon or marathon to a 10K or 5K? The first step in the process is to recover from the race. For a half marathon, this may be 10-20 days, while for a marathon it will be 21+ days. This doesn’t mean you are not running during this timeframe; it just means you are not doing anything overly strenuous in those workouts. The reason for the long recovery is that the longer races demand a lot from the body. Research has shown muscle power production is reduced for these durations and this is why it is so important to allow for full and proper recovery. Once recovered, you can resume full intensity workouts that will prepare you for the shorter distances. It is likely you were already doing many of these interval type workouts during your longer race training. Continue to keep the aerobic base you have built up with strategic long runs and workouts, but you might not need the same total volume to maintain.

Best of luck with the marathon and half marathon training and racing this spring — and better luck with the short and fast 10Ks and 5Ks that summer will bring.

Always running,

Nate Vandervest

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