Five Weeks Off, Five Reflections

Five weeks ago I ran 26.2 miles. Since then, I’ve run zero.

It’s been on purpose, mostly. Since it was my first marathon, I don’t really have a rule of thumb for recovery, but I figured I’d follow the “for every mile of the race, take one day off from running”. So I took 26 days off, which turned into about 35 days off. I needed time to heal my feet, sleep, enjoy not having something planned every single second of the day and generally veg out. Here’s my 2012 race calendar, with a big, gapping hole after November 4th:

IMG_1590

This big, gapping hole has given me time to reflect. Here are some of my thoughts:

Running a marathon is really, really hard.

All of my long training runs went well – even the 20 22 miler. I ran about 85% of my prescribed training plan. I thought I was in a good place, a happy place, even. But it still was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. Which leads into the next one…

Sleep and stress levels matter.

Even though the actual time I spent pounding the pavement was good and I had a solid “base” of running, the last two weeks before the marathon were, um, kind of crappy. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was a big ball of stress. A sinus infection, work and family stresses, and stoopid Hurricane Sandy wrecked both my running and my sleep (no power – had to sleep in living room and put logs on fire a 2 AM) and elevated my stress levels to more than I’d realized. I need to do whatever I can to catch those zzzzz’s.

Surface matters.

I trained on pavement. The marathon was on hard-packed cinders, dirt, and gravel. My body was neither prepared nor happy about the micro-movements that would force my lower body to compensate with. I need to prepare on different surfaces.

Post-marathon depression is a thing.

I knew that, and I was prepared for it. But add to that the disappointment of not running the race you wanted to run (both geographically and performance-wise), and it’s a real kick in the pants. I was not a happy camper. I know, I know…First-World Problem…but I am still a tad disappointed. Life does go on.

Spinning, which I presumed to be the treadmill of cycling, is actually pretty fun.

Mary (Holla, Mary!) brought me to a spinning class that she’s been going to. I wasn’t sure if my leg muscles, let alone bike muscles, would fire. But to sweat again was practically cathartic. My legs liked it, they really, really liked it. I’m thinking of dragging out my 12-year old hybrid bike from the cobwebs of the garage and taking her for a real spin. What’s next, a triathlon? Well, since you mention it…

…I’m thinking about. That is all. More thoughts on that in a future post.

As for NYC Marathon 2013, I’m not prepared to make a decision on it. It’s presumed that the New York Road Runners will offer some sort of guaranteed entry for the runners of the Marathon That Wasn’t. I don’t know if I have the time to train for that distance again. I don’t know if that’s the marathon I would want to do. I don’t know if I want to cough up another $250 entry fee for the dang thing (there are no refunds for hurricanes!). I just…don’t…know.

What I do know is that I can do better. I KNOW I can. I want to do it again to do it better. It’s got to be easier the second time around, right? 

I don’t have to make any decisions now, which makes this procrastinator extremely happy.

In the meantime, I’m putting on my shoes and going for a run this weekend. Hopefully, it will be just like riding a bike. Pun intended.

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4 thoughts on “Five Weeks Off, Five Reflections

  1. Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Dublin this August! Come on over! You should be proud of yourself no matter what. I admire the crap out of you. When I reached the end of my half, I couldn’t imagine that being the half way point. I seriously do not know how you did it. Merp!

    • I am seriously, very seriously considering it. Screw running, I just want to come and see you and have a pint!!

      Regarding the jump from half to full…one step at a time, to use a worn-out cliche. I’ll bet when you finished your first 5k you couldn’t imagine doing a half? It’s the same training process…nothing magical about it. Just one foot in front of the other. By the time I really started training for the full, I had 4 half marathons and 2 years of consistent running under my belt, so I felt ready to try it. I definitely wouldn’t have been ready (and probably would have injured myself) had I tried to train for it after my first one. MERP!!

  2. Great post, Nancy. Glad to hear that you plan to get back at it this weekend. Don’t beat yourself up about what happened in the race…you did the best you could on that day under those circumstances. The marathon is a beast that you don’t fully understand or respect until you’ve attempted it. You’ll be back for round two. 😉

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