I'll admit it. Since getting a Garmin this summer, I've been addicted to the data. I sync that sucker as soon as I get home; often looking with an eye toward future improvement. Split times, heart rate, elevation profiles, caloric burn - sweeeeeet data.
I couldn't help but go over the numbers. I'll spare you the long, detailed analysis. In short - I've concluded that I over trained. I feel like I went out and ran at a pace much too close to my intended race pace for the majority of my training runs, even my long runs. Macmillan and Daniels calculators both put me at about 45-60 seconds slower than what I ran at. Never was this more evident than the marathon itself, where my HR was way too high, and I had to slow down to finish.
I ran the day after. Ill-advised? Maybe. But I really needed to loosen things up so that I could stretch out. I ran incredibly slow. It hurt a little bit. I stretched. It hurt less. I took a day or two off. I ran again. I took a day or two off. I ran slow - partly due to recovery, partly because I want to start training in lower HR zones to work on efficiency. I've been going out for painfully slow zone 2 runs.
Slowly, but surely, I am seeing some gains. At first, these low zone runs were well up above 10:30 pace. But during some recent runs, I've felt like my perceived level of effort is less, and sure enough, upon consulting the all knowing oracle on my wrist, I was running sub-10, sometimes closer to marathon pace, in the high zone 2/low zone 3 ranges. Not consistently, but more frequently than during my training. Pretty happy about the signs of progress. Very happy that I've been able to get out and run so shortly after the marathon. Even happier still that I've been out on a bunch of new routes so closer to my house - in the woods.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep...
One week after the marathon, I ran the Groton Town Forest Trail Race and had a blast. Since then, I've gone out into the conservation land near my house and discovered at least a dozen new routes to run on. I have to say, I am becoming a trail running addict! I love the change in scenery, the in-the-moment nature of a run over rocks and roots, the joy of uncovering a path along the river. Poor timing I suppose, as I it'll be icy and wet soon, and I may need to give up the trails once the snowfall starts to accumulate. But, I have had some fantastic runs during the daylight hours, out in the woods.
In the Dark
With the shorter days, I've been getting out on the roads in the early morning and evening for short 3-6 mile runs. Armed with my inexpensive headlamp and reflective vest, I've been having a blast out there in the darkness. While friends and family complain about daylight and the upcoming winter, I think about the opportunity to get out and run, regardless of light, temperature, precipitation or wind.
So what's Next?
I've got Slattery's Turkey Trot on Sunday. Going to run a nice five miler with Fishadad, most likely in the VFFs. After that, I'm running the Hot Chocolate Run in Northampton in December. I may also do the turkey trot in my town on Thanksgiving day, and I will most likely do the Freezer Five again on New Year's Day.
After that - who knows? I've got some vague ideas. On the list as potential goals/races for next year so far -
- Hampton Half in February
- Stu's 30k in March
- Boston! - I might pace run with my friend Rebecca, as she goes for a sub-5 finish
- USATF Mountain Series - more info - maybe training for...
- Vermont 50! - I'm going to be a part of this race in September in some way, shape or form. I'm not sure if that means I'll be crewing, or running the 50k, or going all in and running the 50 miler. In any event, I'm sure to be spending a lot more time on the trails next year.
- Smuttynose Full - depends on how VT50 plays out, but this is a possibility
Avoiding the Blues
When I completed Kona nine years ago, I took some time off afterwards. Everyone advised me to take some time to rest and let my body recover. For me, this also had the unfortunate side effect of introducing some post-marathon blues. I felt like there was nothing else to achieve, no goals to tackle. This led to a lull in exercise. However, I didn't stop eating like I was training. Thinking back on it now, it was probably the beginning of the weight gain. Today, this sounds completely silly. There are always new things to discover, new goals to set, new ways to keep pushing forward.
So anyways - it's been a month since I finished the marathon, and in that month I've run over 100 miles and found a bunch of new reasons to stay excited about running. I'm having a blast getting out there, and in fact, I'm in the midst of a 10-day running streak right now. I'm very grateful that I have the opportunity to be here now, to be blessed with so many awesome trails to run on so close to home, and to be healthy enough to get out there and enjoy them.
Until next time, run well my friends.