It's over a month since Lochaber and by now I'd planned to be well into the next challenge of being a Speed Queen again, training for Race for Life in June and on my way to a new 10k PB. But as ever, things haven't worked out quite as I'd expected and I've realised that marathon recovery can have a bit of a tail....
Things started off well immediately after the marathon. I had one day of being very stiff, a few days of minor aches and pains in places that don't usually hurt and then everything felt normal. But I didn't rush back to running. For the first couple of weeks, I ran very little and focussed on mixing the activity up to get my body re-balanced. I wanted to re establish my original core fitness that stood me in great stead when I started running a few years ago.
On my first post marathon run, I felt stiff and heavy legged and it was hard work. The second run felt more fluid, strong; I was coming back and it felt good. Good, until the next day when my knee and my foot hurt. It was weird, neither cause any problem when I run, and I had no problem during or after the marathon. In fact they'd been fine since February when I was half way through marathon training and got my insoles. But then I twigged; I'd done the second run au naturelle without the insoles (though still in my Brooks). My post marathon plan had been to build up my natural unaided running as part of general base training. This turned out to be a bad move. Those 5 miles, great though they were at the time, set me back. Lesson learnt.
So I went back to spinning, yoga and pilates and didn't run for almost a whole week. The next Thursday morning dawned beautifully sunny so it was time to get out to the beach and just see how things were panning out. This time I wore all the foot stuff, I wasn't taking any chances. Five super sunny miles, without a niggle and I even did a spot of fartlek for fun. I felt great. Phew, back to normal. Until the next day when, yes the knee and foot started niggling.
However, things weren't as bad as before at all and quickly settled down, so I decided to cut running down to once a week, keep a spin class or two and a Pilates or yoga session. I also decided to focus more on strengthening my feet and knees. So this week I've started every morning with some feet and knee exercises and after work on Friday we had a lovely barefoot walk on the beach. It's just impact that my tootsie's struggle with and I even managed the first (deliberate!) paddle of the year. Pretty warm it was too.
Yesterday, I did Zumba (my first for months and what fun!) and a short interval session on the treadmill. For today's treat, Ali and I got the bus to Gullane and walked the 6 and a bit miles back. Not much of a view, but the beach was really atmospheric. Someone has fixed the coastal walk so you can get almost all the way to Gullane by land even if the tide's in. There's a lovely bit of new woodland path that I am looking forward to running soon.
So, full recovery is taking a while, but there's no rush, I've got plenty of time. I'm just doing what feels right and going with that and not my head telling me I need to get on and achieve things. There are some things that might never 'recover'. My feet are bigger now. Before I was a size 5, now I run in size 7s. My abnormally high arches are a little less high than they were! Will they spring back? Who knows! The other big change is how good it feels to have accomplished something despite all the struggles and obstacles. I know it's not like Everest, and I know loads of folk can run miles and miles further in much less time and then do it again the next day. Running is about what you can do, not what other folk can do and Lochaber was my achievement; no one can ever take that away from me. Never. Ever. And that feels good.
Oh, and something else that felt good this week, I got a piece about the Lochaber Marathon in The Scottish Running Guide. Which is great cos that's where I found out about it in the first place!
Hope you've had a good week and got some quality healthy you time in too. It's so hard to make time with all the things we need to do, but we are definitely worth it!