What’s Next

Life after marathon.

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A whole lot of this going on

I wrote this post a few days ago and have sat on it, revisited it, edited it, and sat some more. It felt a little negative to me. There’s already so much negativity out there that I didn’t want to focus on it and I’ve felt mostly happy about my marathon in Chicago. So I thought about scrapping the whole thing and moving on to just recapping the runs I’ve done since Chicago, but it’s important to me to be real in what I write on this blog; not just paint a glossy picture of only the good times so I kept it.

After finishing the Chicago Marathon last week I felt really done with marathons. Not in a hateful, never want to run again way, just that there was no need for me to run one again. Somewhere during the actual race I thought “I’m done.” It’s not uncommon to feel that way during a marathon (right?), but I was surprised for how long after the marathon I still felt that way. I felt like I’d already reached my sub-4 hour goal during my first marathon, and my goal of running a marathon after baby #2 with Chicago. So what would be my reason for running another one?  As much as I truly didn’t have a goal for Chicago, I was surprised to find myself feeling a little disappointed with my time. But why? Instead of reveling in completing a marathon 13 months after having a baby, I found myself comparing my time to my first marathon.

It was hard for me to not compare my Chicago time to my Smuttynose time. My slowest miles at the end of Smuttynose, when I was taking walk breaks during each mile, are about the same as my splits from Chicago where I ran the whole time.

It was hard for me during and after my pregnancy to not compare my running, or lack there of, to other runners I know. Runners who were pregnant at the same time as me and were still running marathons at 23 weeks pregnant, or others who were back to PR paces within weeks of getting the all clear to return to running after delivery.

I felt like I should be bouncing back too. Oh you’ll bounce back in no time everyone says. What does that even mean? That like a spring, once the baby is out everything boings back into place? Yeah, not exactly. There was definitely no bouncing here. There were grueling 1 mile slogs around my neighborhood, long breaks with no running at all, many 2 mile runs that felt like that was as far as I was ever going to be able to go, and feeling like I was going to throw up after running my first 4 miles in a row.

I could either feel good about all I’d done and where I was, or I could continue to compare and always come up short. I’m happy to say that a week post-Chicago I do want to run another marathon. I realized it was ridiculous to compare my two marathons on times alone. In fact, it was ridiculous to compare them at all. Each one could stand alone as a really fun and fulfilling day. Now I can focus on just the positives of Chicago – running consistent splits, not walking, and enjoying the whole atmosphere of the race are pretty huge positives. Smuttynose can be my motivation to return to speed work and give me a new goal for my next marathon – to get close to that time again. That’s not to say I’m going to sign up for a spring marathon tomorrow. Part of me feels like I hate to give up the endurance I’ve built up in marathon training, but another part of me feels like I should just focus on shorter distances and building a faster pace. For now I’m going to add in a day of track work and a day of tempo work while keeping my long runs between 10-16 miles.

What are your winter/spring race plans?

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8 thoughts on “What’s Next

  1. Congrats on your 2nd finish!! A marathon just over a year after a baby is such a feat! You have to get back to running regularly AND deal with it while having a newborn!

    Having just finished my first, it’s hard to think about dedicating that much time to ONE race. Im taking the winter to get stronger since it’s the first one I don’t have to rehab and injury!!

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  2. Great post! I for one appreciate that you decided to keep in real and be honest.

    I always tell myself I want to focus on speed and shorter races after marathons, and it sounds great at first but after doing it for a while I always feel like something is missing. Even right now, while I am enjoying having the latter half of the year off from marathon training, I keep thinking about my upcoming marathon training and comparing the shape I’m in now to the shape I’m in when I train for marathons. The fact is, the marathon has my heart. It is my favorite distance to race and the rest just don’t compare. I love the race, I love putting in the hard work, I love the build up and the process and the incredible fitness gains I see from training. The problem is that the training just takes so much out of me – physically, mentally, emotionally, and time-wise. I learned the hard way when I tried to jump back into training for a fall marathon after completing Grandma’s in June. I just couldn’t do it. I was burnt out. As much as I love the marathon, I think one a year is enough for me….well, for now!

    I’m training for a half PR on December 6th right now. Whether or not I get it, I’ll move on to training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in Spring 2016 and I can’t wait. I mean, I’ll miss having the free time but I can’t wait to crush my marathon PR again!

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    • It is such a drain on time and energy! My husband and I talk a lot about how good the half-marathon distance is. It’s long enough to feel like you are getting some solid distance, but short enough to not take over life. I think that your approach to one marathon a year helps keep the love and excitement for marathoning going. Feeling like it’s a hamster wheel of training could lead to burn-out for me. Good things to consider!

      Looking forward to you crushing a PR in December and follow your training for Pittsburgh!

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  3. Despite the blah feelings completing your marathon is an incredible accomplishment that you got to enjoy and celebrate with your family, so congrats on achieving your goal. Keeping your long runs at that 10-16 mile distance will definitely keep you in shape and allow you to jump back into a training plan when you are ready for that next race. Enjoy the downtime for a couple weeks, it is nice to rest, and you will be ready to go again in no time!

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