Two months ago I ran my first marathon. Since then I have run fewer times than the fingers on my hands. And I’m perfectly OK with that.
I love running, but after more than four months of intense training and early alarms, I looked forward to setting my own workout schedule with variety and flexibility. No longer was I contained to a four-day a week running schedule that left me sore and fatigued on my off days; post-marathon, I could do whatever I wanted. Hours of spinning and Body Pump and yoga have elevated my heart rate, strengthened my muscles and increased my flexibility.
So I chose not to run. Partly due to a nagging strain in my upper thigh, I committed myself to a full recovery. Some coaches and running experts recommend allowing the body days of recovery equal to the number of miles run in a hard race. For me that meant waiting 27 days before I ran my usual route to Fleet Feet and down to the Lincoln and Washington Memorials to accumulate my first post-marathon miles. Even with the chill and breeze and an excessive number of layers, the run was just what I needed. No pressure to run fast or keep pace; just a run because I wanted it.
Despite the lapses accumulating miles, my love for running has not dwindled; in fact, my rest has intensified my passion for the pounding of the pavement. When struck by a series of unfortunate heartbreaks last month, all I wanted to do was run; I knew it was one of the few things that could distract me from all the pain and negativity affecting me and allow me to focus on my energy on something else. When marathon training, running was something I had to do, albeit I enjoyed it; but without a race to train for, running represents my escape, my release, my outlet for doing something selfishly for myself.
During these past two months, the question of what I would do next came often. Would I run another marathon? If so, when? Which one? I already know I will run another one, ideally in fall 2015, but there is no immediate rush. In the meantime, as I shift away from recovery mode and back into training, I will prepare for D.C. Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in mid-March.
With four half marathons and a full 26.2 miles under my belt, this coming season of training will be dedicated to speed and pushing myself to the brink. In 2014, I completed both of my half marathons around 1:45; this March I am aiming for 1:40, around eight-minute miles. After months of hot, sun drenched runs, the combination of the colder, brisk air and a reunion with the Fleet Feet crew for winter training has me ready to return to the trails.
So after two months of running at my own pace, this Saturday it is back to early alarms and long run mornings. I may not have missed waking up in the dark, but I did miss the sweat and accomplishment of accumulating miles hours before much of the D.C. wakes up to see the sun.