My husband and I talked a little about how I’m a very goal oriented person after the half marathon this weekend. I’ve always believed that it is important to have some sort of goal to be working towards, to provide a sense of purpose. This has usually been a professional focus- what job did I want to strive for, what aspects of my job did I want to improve on, what degree do I need to have certain options open to me, how will I pass the bar exam the first time.
So the half marathon was a different type of aspiration for me, but it helped fill a void that law school left- a GOOD void, mind you. Training helped provide some sort of structure and I liked knowing that there was a tangible accomplishment in my near future, something I can look back on with pride.
Which begs the question- now that the race is over, what next?
I’ve read that it is very common for runners after completing a race that they have trained a long time for to have a sense of loss and to feel adrift now that the goal is just gone. I don’t feel that extreme- I’m not restless at the thought of not having to plan my weekend around a long training run. Maybe if I didn’t have my spring break to look forward to I’d be feeling more anxiety.
Instead, I feel like I need to evaluate my fitness levels at this point, think about where I can improve, and set some mini-goals from there. I don’t necessarily need a race to drive my fitness, because I just like how exercise feels.
And in fact, there were some aspects about training that I didn’t like. Primarily I didn’t like that my other fitness priorities, mainly strength training, became casualties- as work has picked up, I have to choose between workouts, and the running would have to win if I wanted to be ready.
So my first priority for now is to refocus on my upper body and core strengthening. My planks have become few and far between, and after hitting 70 push-ups in one session, I’ve slacked in that area as well. A strong upper body is important for running to avoid fatigue. On a shallower level, it makes me look and feel better about myself. My sleeveless dresses look better, and my tops are flatter across my middle. And I like that. More importantly, I have found myself feeling a little tired in the arms and core in other activities like yoga and spinning, which I don’t like. So it’s time to make these exercises central to my rotation once again.
Additionally, I’d like to mix things up and challenge myself in these areas. First I’m just going to work to get my basic foundation back, but after that I need to try new things. I’m thinking a bunch of stuff- maybe trying one of the spinning-strength combo classes, a yoga vinyasa that I have yet to attempt, and simply incorporating new basic exercises with kettleballs (bells? Probably should figure that out!) and advanced plank poses. Anything to set the bar higher and make me feel a little sore in these areas again is very appealing to me at the moment.
Running-wise- well, I may not feel like I NEED a race to keep me motivated, but that doesn’t mean I don’t already have my eye on a few new ones! In particular, I’ve pretty much made up my mind to do the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. This is for several reasons (I’m a lawyer by training, so I always have several reasons to back up my logic).
- Like many of my race choices, it’s very close to my apartment. In fact, the pick up area to Mount Vernon is walking distance. Works for me.
- It’s in October. I had been thinking about the Chicago Half in September, but after this weekend realized I have no desire to have the height of my training in the heat of August. October seems like a safer bet.
- It sounds like a really great race, down the Mount Vernon Trail that I frequent so much for my long runs and across the bridge.
- Well, I am a goal oriented person.
In the meantime, I really want to work on improving my running foundation. I’m pleased with my half PR, but one way I can get better is simply by running more than I have been. Most of my weekday runs were in the 3-4 mile range. This was mostly due to my knee being cranky with all the new mileage. Since I don’t have to dramatically build my mileage in the near term, I’d like to work my way to running my week day runs solidly in the 4-5 mile range comfortably.
I’m planning on keeping up with long runs most weekends in the 6-9 mile range so that the long runs aren’t a complete shock to my system again. I just like long runs in this mile range, it’s a nice way to spend the weekend. I also plan to slowly start upping my speed on my runs by incorporating a tempo or fartlek. Obviously this is meant to set a new half PR, but also because I think I need to start challenging my daily running just for the sake of keeping it fresh, without a singular race driving me.
That’s what I’ve been ruminating on the last few days since my half. I’m in rest mode now- well, I don’t know if yesterday’s spin class counts, but my legs are feeling good so I figured why not? But otherwise I’m definitely dialing back the running, and probably won’t really start focusing on my running goals until after my spring break in mid-April. I’m planning on doing some 5K’s and 10K’s afterward to keep me on track and help me measure my progress.
I’m really looking forward to this next phase- it’s now about improving my running performance, not just doing the activity. It’s a nice place to be.