Friday, October 26, 2012

Post Marathon Thoughts

Well now that I have run my first marathon, how do I feel and what's next?  The two days following my legs were pretty sore.  Mostly my quads.  I headed right back to work the next two days.  I stand up and walk around during my work day, so I figured it would be good to move around a bit.  Walking down the three flights of stairs at my apartment and the stairs to get to the train was not pretty.  Ow.  Thankfully I wasn't walking funny.  At work everyone was really happy and proud of me for completing a marathon.  Even mentioning to guests that I ran a marathon!  They also got me a cute "Congratulations" card.  

Most couldn't believe I was working the day after running a marathon.  Honestly, it wasn't that bad.  Yes, my legs were sore, but it wasn't like I was unable to move.  The second day I was much more tired and definitely looking forward to a day at home to do nothing though.

I did some light stretching on Tuesday and then went on an easy bike ride Thursday to move my legs some.  My first run was the Saturday after the race.  It was three miles, but it seriously felt like it was the first time I had ever run.  The marathon distance does a number on your body!  It was a very slow run, but that's OK.  The past few weeks I have been getting back into my regular workout routine which is three or four days of running with two or three days of cross training, slowing increasing the times and distances.  Things have been going well.  However the past few days my left calf has been feeling strange, like it did in August.  I have been wearing compression socks every night, stretching throughout the day, and foam rolling since that helped last time.  Hopefully things will feel better soon.

Training for a marathon is no joke!  You have to be both mentally and physically prepared for all that comes with it.  I thought, maybe, maybe I would try a marathon some day.  A day far in the future.  After volunteering for the 2011 Chicago Marathon though I was really inspired and the thought of a marathon in the next year seemed possible.  I continued my regular running routine and building my running base.  
I used the marathon training plan from John Bingham and Coach Jenny Hadfield's book Marathoning for Mortals.  I used the half marathon plan for my first half marathon and a variation of it for my next two half's as well.  I highly recommend the book if you are thinking about running a full or half marathon.  Even if you have already run one you should read it.  The book is broken into four parts: Getting Started, Training, The Toolbox, and Game Face with eight training plans in the back.  It is chock full of good information and I refer back to it often when training.  

My training plan was 17 weeks, so just over four months long.  Marathon training is really time consuming.  I knew that it was going to be a big commitment and I am glad I stuck with the plan.  I liked knowing that my workouts were planned out for me for the upcoming weeks.  I didn't have to think about what workout I should be doing next.  My plan also included lots of cross training which allowed me to do different activities, instead of just running.  Cross training is great because it helps prevent injury, allows you to use different muscles groups, and breaks up the runs throughout the week.
The weekday training runs were all time based and long runs were set with miles.  This was nice because I never ran longer than an hour on weekdays.  With other plans near the end of training some weekday runs can last two hours.  Another thing about this training plan was that I used my heart rate, instead of pace, to measure the intensity of my runs.  My Garmin has a heart rate monitor with it so I wore it on all of my runs to make sure I was in the right training zone.  Instead of worrying about meeting a certain pace, I ran by effort.  Some days the pace was faster, some days slower, it all depended on how my body was feeling each day.  

Yes, it was a lot of time and miles of training, but it was all worth it and I enjoyed it.  Many things have been written about how a marathon changes a person and I have to agree. Everything I put into training and running the marathon has made me a stronger runner, a healthier person, a happier person, and allowed me to prove to myself that anything is possible.  

So what is next?  Oh, I will be running another marathon!  I have been researching and trying to decide which one will be next.  I am looking for one in the spring.  

I don't have anything on my race schedule for the rest of the year right now.  I would like to do another half marathon soon.  I am considering the F^3 Half Marathon which is in January.  I am also thinking about a Thanksgiving run and a Holiday run for December.  

Do you like having a training schedule?  Any race suggestions?