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The Training that Binds You

June 5, 2011

Sorry I have been out of the loop for the past few days here. The day after the marathon we had to move everything out of our 6-bedroom (cluttered) house, and into our new places. It was exhausting and painful on my sore legs, but we are all settled in our new places now thanks to lots of help from some guy friends. We thanked them last night by throwing a little BBQ in our new backyard gravel parking lot. Once we get some more furniture and decorations up (and internet) I will post some pictures of it! Now, back to our scheduled program….

I took three days off from running after the marathon to recover, which consisted of at least 75 trips up and down various flights of stairs and lots of heavy lifting. On the third day off I got my full body massage, which was heaven on earth; hot stones, aromatherapy, energy healing… the works.

I woke up on Thursday feeling like a new woman. Barely any soreness, and finally feeling fully rested after several days of strenuous running and heavy lifting. I went for a short jog in the morning leaving my ipod and Garmin at home, and finally felt free from the mile counting, mile splits, and blasting music. I was able to enjoy the beautiful morning air and hear myself think. I will always remember that run.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy my training runs; I loved logging the miles, pushing myself hard, and facing all the elements that a Vermont winter comes with. I think marathon training is one of those things I will look back on and tend to sugar coat; forgetting the bitter cold temperatures and all the times I had to miss going out with friends at night just to wake up 6am for an ‘easy’ 10 miler. When I recount my months of training I tend to focus on all those long runs I conquered and the huge feeling of accomplishment as I geared up for my final 26 miler. Which is great. 

But over this past week, I have found just as much pleasure in not having a looming long run over my head, and finally staying out as late as I want without the added pang of fear that I’m sabotaging my training. Now I don’t have to freak out every time I stub  toe or feel a twinge of pain in my knee. These are normal occurrences now, and not something that could jeopardize running a perfect race (in my mind).

I am a very all or nothing person, and following a training plan for my first marathon was the only way I could go into the race feeling confident in my running progress. I missed a few days here and there due to a nagging knee injury and random laziness but on the whole I nailed all my long runs on schedule and reached my overall mileage goal. I knew going into the marathon I had done everything “right”, and I truly felt confident that I could complete the final distance.

If I run another marathon I will do things much differently. Not because I want to improve my time, run negative splits, or qualify for Boston; I want to follow my own schedule, running when and how far my body feels like running. I’ll still increase my long runs, and do some random speed work when I want to, but overall I want to be more flexible.

Some nights my friends would want to go out on a random Wednesday, but because my long runs were planned for Thursdays, I usually opted out. Some Sundays we felt like going out for brunch but I had to fit in a run before work. I do not ever want my passion for running to start taking over my life or interfering with friends and other important aspects of college. I still love running and racing, but the freedom I have felt over this past week, not being bound to a training regimen, has felt just as great as completing a hard workout.

If your someone who follows a strict running routine, is a slave to your garmin, and keeps track of mileage religiously, I really recommend taking a week off from the mental side of working out. Still head out on your usual runs, but do what your body feels like doing that day; whether that’s a glorious 10 miler or a jog around the block.

Whatever your passion is, do you tend to follow a strict schedule or do you ebb and flow with how you feel? I think there are pros and cons for both types, and I’m usually one to follow a tight to-do-list or schedule, but I’m starting to appreciate the freedom of less structure.

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