Hello, is this thing on??
It’s been 6 weeks since I ran my 3rd marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and 6 weeks since I followed any sort of formalized schedule. This blog is pretty quiet when I’m not running, huh?
So how did recovery go? It went both good and bad. Immediately following the marathon and in the days afterward, I felt great. It’s pretty amazing to experience your body adapting to the miles. I felt horrible after my first marathon. I could barely sleep I was in so much pain, it hurt to get out of bed and walk around for days, my calves took 3 weeks to finally loosen up, and I felt completely burned out. I ended up taking 2-3 weeks off completely after that race to recover. It helped that we had a tiny puppy Koji to take care of in the weeks after the race, which helped distract me. This time around, I felt pretty good within 2-3 days after the race. I felt a similar feeling after last year’s Chicago, and I recovered really well from that race.
I usually force myself to take 2 weeks off after a big race. 14 days of no running, maybe some light yoga and foam rolling, and lots of sleeping. This year I was really tempted to break it after about 8 or 9 days, but I forced myself to stick to my 2-week plan. I had a big year of training. I’ve been following a training cycle of some form since February this year, so I deserved some extra downtime.
Then when the 2-week mark hit, I was tempted by some abnormally warm temps to head outside for a run. I aimed to run around 3 miles at an easy pace. Well…it wasn’t pretty. I ran the 3 miles, but my easy pace felt like a tempo pace. My left foot ached during the run and then the day afterward. I was really worried that I had injured myself during the race. After a week or so of off-and-on trying to run/resting/icing/stretching, the pain finally went away. I think my feet and calves were still really tight from the race and a too-tight shoe lace irritated a tendon on the top of my foot. Of course, my mind went in a million different directions for fear of a repeat injury of a few years back. But thankfully, it looks like it was a fluke thing and all is good.
Now that I’m 6 weeks-post race, things are feeling good. I’m getting my endurance and speed back thanks to regular easy running and weekly hill club runs.
Well, dare I say it, what’s next doesn’t really involve a lot of running. I love running and always will. Besides horseback riding, it’s the only physical activity that I can’t really imagine my life without. But with the colder weather coming and no races on the calendar, I’m taking this off-season to focus on some other things.
For one, I want to focus on doing some strength work. I know it’s so cliche-basic-bitch and I hate myself just a little bit for saying this, but I want to look as great as I can for my wedding day. I don’t want to lose weight necessarily, but I want to focus on strengthening the areas of my body (arms/back) that both show in my wedding dress, but that I also neglect when I’m training for a race. On a non-vain note, focusing on strength training will help me balance out my body and the areas that could use some TLC from all my running. To do this, I’ve been taking ~2 Afterburn (HIIT classes with weights, similar to Orange Theory, minus the treadmill) classes at my gym each week and would like to push that to 3 per week this winter.
Secondly, I’m excited to run just to run! No set mileage, no set paces, no expectations. I find that I’m happier when I run like this. I want to get back to familiarizing myself with why I run. I run to help manage stress. I run to stay physically fit. I run because it’s fun. If that means I run a 10-mile long run on a warm Saturday morning, but then not run 10 miles again for 2 months, so be it. If that means I run the same 4-mile loop because it’s pretty and I like it’s hills, then cool! If I run only 1.5 miles on the treadmill to warm up for a strength session, then cool! I am happy to just be able to run.
Thirdly, I want to get back to living a little bit. I am excited to get back the time I used to devote to running to do some other things. I want to work hard at my job. I want to go out to dinner with my friends on a Friday night. I want to go out of town with Bernie for a weekend. I want to spend my Saturday mornings sipping coffee on the couch, snuggling up with Koji. I want to try a fun yoga class for the hell of it. I want to plan my wedding (!) coming up in 7 months. I’m ready to just sort of chill and go with the flow a little more. There will be more races next year I’m sure, albeit short ones. But for now, I’m kinda enjoying having a little more time.
I’m not hanging up the racing shoes for very long, but for now, me and 26.2 won’t meet again until 2017. And honestly, I’m excited for the little break. It will make our relationship much stronger.
Readers: Do you change your training and fitness habits in the off-season?