I had one of my most favourite (and shortest!) runs ever this week. Monday morning I just ran for the fun of it on the beach; without insoles, without gels and no thought about fuel or glycogen. I just got up, got dressed and ran. That's the first time I've done a run purely for the fun of it for months and it felt great!
I'm sure no matter how many half and full marathons I run and how fast or slow I do them, nothing will feel like the first one. I've really enjoyed the exclusive focus on running and what I've learnt from pushing myself and aiming for something that wasn't easy. And I hope very much that I'll run another marathon if I'm spared and well; but not for a wee while. For now I want to spend a bit of time doing all the things I've not had time to do and get a bit of balance back into my life and muscle - I like balance.
There's been a few things about the whole marathon thing that have driven me batty.
- Not being able to do much exercise with Ali because I had to run all the time
- Having to run to a timetable not when I want to - especially when it 's a lovely day but I can't do a run on the beach because I'm resting (AARRGGHH!!!!).
- Having to focus only on distance and forget about hills and speed, especially speed, it is my weakness
- Not being able to do spinning and running because my knee began to grumble if I did too much
The biggest thing is the time that marathon preparation takes up -- especially when it's your first one and you can't even think about cutting corners (expect the crisis type cuts!). The juggling, the wheeling and dealing to get those runs in. Without the long runs I have so much time. Ali and I can do lunch and get a walk on the beach. Yesterday we cycled to Haddington and back for lunch with a dear friend. My legs really enjoyed the change, especially my knees.
And there's the energy! That first weekend without a long run, I was up early and completely bottomed the kitchen. I was up ladders, on top of cupboards, into every nook and cranny. Our kitchen has never been so clean and the spiders have had to make do with a move to the garage. Since the long runs stopped, the garden has been weeded and I've done swimming and aqua aerobics, the cats are all played out and I've done all sorts of stuff I've not done for months.
Finally, there's the mental space that marathon prep takes up. I still wake up at 5am planning my running schedule for the week. I'm still checking tide times and wind direction several times a day and looking to see whether I can fit a run into my work schedule. But it's a but less obsessive now and I have a bit more brain capacity for stuff that isn't running.
But of course running's not far from my thoughts. There's another reason I want time to do other things. I never captured the level of fitness I had when I ran my first half marathon, I spent most of the training sorting out my deformed feet. Plus in my training, I got loads of things wrong and many's the time I thought 'next time I'll remember to do X or Y'. It's in my blood to learn from my mistakes (just as well given how many I make) and I never waste a learning experience (especially if it hurts) so I've decided to spend the rest of the year getting myself into good basic shape to start training for a marathon next year (I want to do Lochaber again, I loved it). I know now what bits of me I need to work on.
I've set my fitness goals for the rest of the year as:
- Taking my Chi Running deeper, which includes the Nick's Chi Running weekend in the autumn which I'm really excited about (dead chuffed to feature in Nick's roll of honour this month too!)
- Building up my basic fitness, core strength and resilience, especially the bits that struggled most with the training. A mix of Pilates and Yoga and circuit/strength work to build key muscles and strengthen joints. And I'll get back to spin with a vengeance.
- Getting my 10k back under 55 mins and maybe even a new pb. That should keep my inner speed queen happy!
- Reintroducing hill work. I was much slower and running felt harder without the hillwork. Like speed, it got binned so I could build up distance. I'm going to very carefully start building in some hills and get those calves back to peak condition.
So, that's it. Time to get off the laurels and back onto the training schedule. Apart from my mini run, I've done a cycle ride, pilates and yoga and a couple of Gillian Reynolds shred sessions. Everything seems to be in working order, so I'm ready to go.
Lots more full and half marathons this week and some great achievements. Whatever you're up to, be great!