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I took the entirety of last week off from running. My body didn’t fight it. In fact, during the first 5 days after New York I never had a strong urge to put the running shoes on. This is quite unusual for me. In the four previous marathons I’ve run, I have been eager to get right back out there on the pavement the next day, whether I am physically able or not.
I don’t know if it was just the beating I took running the five boroughs or the cumulative effect of running 5 marathons and 3 Half-Marathons in 53 weeks, but physically I just didn’t want to run. I think after what I’ve put it through though, I owed it to my body to listen.
A full eight days out now, however, and I’m starting to get itchy. I woke up yesterday morning and seriously thought of jumping in as a bandit in a local half-marathon that goes right by my house. I chose to be smart, knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to let the throttle out. I could have paced a friend of mine as well, but at that distance, at some point I wonder if I might not have felt the need to just go.
Yes, I am getting itchy. My shoes (both my Bikilas and my Kinvaras) are calling to me; or maybe it’s my feet that are calling to them. Either way, before this day is through, there will be miles run. It is time.
What’s my point in all of this?
Just that after beating your body into the ground, maybe it is best to listen to it when it is asking for a break. Recovery and rest are no joke.
Like I mentioned earlier, in the past four marathons I have been eager to get back out running as quickly as possible. I wonder if it that urge has more to do with fear than desire. I wonder if some small part of me was afraid if I didn’t get out there as soon as possible, I simply wouldn’t. Some runners (and I know I have been guilty of this) also have this irrational fear that if they don’t run as often as possible they will lose fitness*. It can sometimes border on the edge of compulsion. And seriously, aside from maybe flushing out some built up lactate, I can’t imagine just how productive those post-marathon runs really are.
So this week, I’m taking a new approach. Mentally I know I’m ready to run. My plan for my assault on Heartbreak Hill is coming together. Boston is only (only?) 5 months away. I may not PR at Boston, but I know I’ll improve on last year’s performance. My official training cycle doesn’t start until mid-December (or mid-January, depending on whether I follow an 18-week or 12-week program). Until that training cycle starts, I’m gonna listen to the legs and let them lead the way.
This last week has been luxurious, surprisingly pleasant really. This coming week I will take it slow and easy. And if my legs are ready? Next week it’s back to some real mileage…but only if my legs (and the rest of my body) tell me so.
How long do you take to recover after a marathon?
*I don’t mean the “oh my God I’m gonna gain weight!” fitness. I mean the “oh my God, I’m gonna lose the ability to run a certain distance at a certain pace” fitness.