After the mental and emotional high of having run a full marathon had faded away, I found myself asking, “What’s next?” To be honest I had not really thought about it, I was so busy worrying about whether or not I would finish that I didn’t sign up for any races after January. So now that I didn’t have anything to train for until a half-marathon in October (our birthdays are only a day apart in October, my running partner and I run this as our “birthday race”), I find myself wondering what to do to keep some kind of momentum going even though I am not actively training.
Training to Train
I find now is a good time to get stronger, build up endurance, and improve my pace without the pressure of a set race schedule. Since there is no finish line to be reached, I can set other goals like maintaining a running streak. When Fitbit friends invite me to weekly workout challenges, I can participate fully without the fear that I might hurt myself before a race. I also started a half-marathon beginner training schedule just to give me ideas on what to focus on each week, without the pressure of having to stick to it.
Going Back to the Love of Running
When marathon day was inching closer, sometimes I just found myself dragging my feet to go out and run. At certain points I was so exhausted from the rigorous training that running was feeling like just another chore to get through. Now I can enjoy running again. I’m going back to why I came to love running in the first place—because it helps me clear my head, gives me time to myself in quiet solitude, and gets me in tune with nature and the outdoors. I even joined other running groups as it inspires me to hear about other runners’ stories and finding new places to run with them.
There is a series of free 5K races that I sign up for and, because there is no cost involved, I find it easier to convince friends and family to join with me. I can run or walk at their pace and enjoy the social aspect of a no-pressure run. I have also been able to carve out more time to running with my daughter, and even participate in fundraising race events for her school.
So, although I do want to sign up for more races between now and October, and am pretty sure I will run the full marathon again next January, for now I’m just enjoying what it brings me. For now I’m just running.