It’s been a week since I finished my second marathon and oddly it already feels like weeks ago. Maybe it’s because the weather finally changed (a week too late, mother nature!) or because having a week off from training made the extra time feel longer. Either way, it feels like I have been off from running for much longer than a week and I am feeling anxious to get out and enjoy these beautiful days before the cold of winter takes over.
As the week went on I quickly felt less and less disappointed with the race. Everyone that ran the full seemed to be disappointed and we were all affected by the heat. Misery loves company, right? I did reflect on the fact that, had I not put in the time and effort into my training, I may not have finished at all. I don’t believe a PR is guaranteed at any distance, but as I expressed leading up to the race, a strong training cycle for the marathon doesn’t guarantee anything. Not even crossing the finish line. Had the weather been perfect, I may still have bonked after mile 20. That’s what makes the marathon so challenging and sets it apart from shorter distances. There is nothing wrong with a half marathon, 10K, or 5K, but most runners can go into those underprepared and still have a decent race. The marathon demands a commitment to training to have a decent finish. It demands that the time and mileage be put in to move forward with some sort of success. What defines success in the marathon often changes throughout the race as a runner faces different challenges. It may go from hoping for a big PR, to hoping to just finish around a previous race time, to hoping to just finish at all. It’s the risk a runner takes if they chose to truly commit themselves to 16-18 weeks of training. I think anyone that crosses a finish line of a marathon feels proud, but that doesn’t mean he or she has to feel satisfied.
My recovery from this marathon started that evening with my private yoga session with my mom. We really focused on my hips which I believe helped. When I woke up Monday morning I had the normal rigor mortis quads, but no aches or pains that wouldn’t be normal for the first day after the marathon. My glutes and abs were sore which actually made me happy to know I was engaging my core as I should during the run. My plan for the week was to do zero running, but to still be active and hop on the bike if I needed to move a little more.
I wanted to take at least Monday and Tuesday to recover before hitting the bike at all. We regularly walk our dogs 2-3 times a day on a one mile loop, so getting moving last week wasn’t an issue. I headed out Monday morning for our first walk and by the end of the mile things had loosened up. Tuesday a lot of the stiffness had subsided and I was still sore in a few spots on my quads. I woke up early on Wednesday and hit the gym for 35 minutes on the bike. I had planned to keep my heart rate in zone 1 for recovery, but struggled to even get it up into that zone. I turned the resistance up as much as I felt comfortable, but ultimately I had to accept that it would truly just be a ride to move my legs and nothing else. This did help a lot and by the afternoon I was feeling back to normal.
I felt good on Thursday, but of course opted to continue to rest and walk. Friday it rained most the day as the cold front finally came in and brought our fall weather. Saturday morning was chilly and beautiful. My husband and I decided to take the dogs down to one of the local metro parks and go for a hike. Our basset hound kept wanting to run and I told him I felt the same way! I really wanted to be strict about my recovery and really give my body a full week to rest. We ended up hiking 5 miles on a rolling hill trail so it was nice to move in a more challenging way than just the 1-mile dog walks.
After my Sunday morning walk with the dogs I was really tempted to lace up and head out. The weather was gorgeous – sunny and cool with a breeze. I opted to curl up under a blanket, drink some tea, and enjoy some Netflix. I know that was the right choice. In all I walked about 21 miles throughout the week which is actually pretty average for me.
This week I will return to some easy running. I’m excited about it and happy to get back into a routine. On Saturday one of my running club’s former coaches is hosting a “Fall Foliage Run” around his neighborhood, complete with post-run coffee and breakfast snacks. Last summer I dropped back to a slower pace group for marathon training so it will be fun to spend a Saturday morning with my former training mates.
Good luck to everyone running the Marine Corps Marathon this upcoming weekend & any other races this weekend! I look forward to reading your recaps; fall race season is the best!