Friday, May 3, 2019

After The Marathon

Crossing the finish line of the Brighton Marathon was an amazing feeling - knowing that all the months of hard work, and the last 3 hours 42 minutes and 52 seconds of running had been worthwhile. I'd done something that only a couple of years ago would have seemed ridiculous. I'd completed a marathon.

Brighton Marathon Medal 2019

The next couple of days were a mixture of disbelief (had I really run that marathon, or was it all a dream?!) and pride, soaking up all the congratulatory messages and revelling in the post-marathon bliss along with so many other people I knew.

But it's a weird feeling, coming to the end of a marathon and the training cycle preceding it. Training for a marathon took over my life in a way running hadn't done for a long time. And recovering from the effort was going to take a more conscious effort than I was used to.

Before I began marathon training, I was on what felt like a cycle of race-recover-race. I was (and still am relatively) new to racing, and wanted to try my hand at everything coming my way. Weekend after weekend was booked up with 10Ks and half marathons, I had midweek races with my club through the summer, and cross country season through the winter. There was no such thing as an 'A' race - I was giving everything I had every time and just living and training from one race to the next. 

Marathon training was totally different. Four months dedicated to a single goal. Yes, I had races during training but these were all factored into the plan, they all served a purpose. 

And so when my rest period began the day after Brighton, I suddenly felt a bit lost. My next race at the time wasn't going to be until the end of June. In some ways it was similar to finishing my first half marathon - the 2016 Bath Half. I'd dedicated three months to training, achieved my goal of running 13.1 miles, and was done. But I didn't really consider myself a runner then, and I had other things to look forward to such as graduating medical school and starting work as a doctor. 

After the marathon, I took five full rest days. I think I went to one yoga class, but other than that no real structured activity, just some walking. I ran at parkrun the following Saturday and probably ran too hard but sometimes you just have to figure these things out. With no prior marathon experience, I didn't know if I'd still be in peak fitness or fatigued, and I sort of wanted to find out. 

I went for a trail run the next Sunday (a week after Brighton) and took it really easy - walking and pausing whenever I felt my breathing get harder or my heart rate rising. It was nice to get out and not take any notice of pace or distance, and simply just enjoy running as a great way to get out and explore. I also ran the following Tuesday, an easy 4 miles.

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One week since Brighton marathon and today’s run was a total contrast. πŸƒπŸ»‍♀️ Something I missed during marathon training was running just for the sake of running. I enjoyed the training and it certainly paid off, but I was looking forward to being able to just put my running shoes on and head out with no specific distance or aim in mind. 🌲 So that’s exactly what I did today - headed out with only the vaguest idea of where I wanted to go, and not a clue how far or how long I’d be out. 🌿🐿🌲🌳 Rather than 26.2 miles of road, I did 9.2 miles on as many different terrains as I could find! Tarmac, trail, sand, grass... hopping over stiles and getting my feet soaking wet with the early morning dew. I stopped and walked and took photos and paid no attention to how quickly or slowly I was getting anywhere. πŸ₯ Perfect early morning start for Easter Sunday. Happy Easter all! πŸ’œ . . . . #running #trailrunning #runningmotivation #runnersofinstagram #sundaylongrun #runningstories #seenonmyrun #runhappy #loverunning #runspire #ukrunchat #thegreatoutdoors #countryside #running #easterweekend #sundayrunday
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Parkrun-day comes around surprisingly quickly sometimes and again I was feeling ready to test where I was at having had what I thought was a good period of rest and easy running. What started off as a strong run began to feel harder and harder and my time of 22:25 is a long way from my personal best. And for the first time in a while, I was getting hip pain again - probably as a result of getting back to strength training and fast running too soon. So I made the decision to rest properly and take another week off. No running. No strength work. In the interest of honesty, I did go horse riding at the beginning of the week and go swimming towards the end despite saying to myself it would be a "total rest" week. But neither of these activities seemed to aggravate the injury, and it seems far better already.

Parkrun April 2019

So what's to come now? More marathons?!

Yes to more marathons. One more at least... To run the London Marathon is a dream for me, and having achieved the GFA qualifying time I'm determined to be able to run it in 2020. Before then, I'm undecided. Sometimes I think another marathon later in the year could be fun. But I also quite like the fun of running more, shorter races throughout the summer and autumn and I think another marathon would detract from that. I also need to think about studying for exams that I've been putting off doing...

I've got a 10K race booked for mid-May to give myself something to look forward to in the short term. It's Hyde Park, so a flat course, but I'm probably not going to be in PB shape.

I've also got two half marathons booked later in the year that I'd like to have a good go at - Ealing Half and Amsterdam Half. I've got some goals in mind for these, but I'm not sharing those yet!

I'd also really like to work on my parkrun PB, or at least running somewhere close to it again. Plus more parkrun tourism - I'm not quite ready to kick off a serious attempt at the Alphabet Challenge, but I'm starting to think about it. 

So lots to look forward and hopefully plenty to be writing about!

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