I have to admit that one of the greatest feelings in the world is working towards something and attaining it. In this case, it was finishing the Philadelphia Marathon with a PR of 3:28:10. Needless to say, I can add this awesome experience to my running adventures, but now what?
Well usually, I would already have another race on the calendar by now. Not this time though. What I really liked about the Hansons Marathon Method book is that it tells you in detail what you should do leading up to race day AND also what to do after race day. Specifically, it recommends that you take the next two weeks off from running.
Your body just went through a tough ordeal and needs time to recover. This in turn will give you a chance to catch up on stuff you may have put off during training and "regain some of the balance in your life." I know that last time I took some time off from running, it really helped recharge my batteries mentally so it only makes sense to follow the book's recommendation and do it again. If I had to give a name to this phase, I would call it the "Work Hard, Play Harder" phase, haha.
It's been two weeks now since the marathon, and I have indulged in eating and drinking to my heart's content, AKA I have been a fatty! I think it's a good thing though to get a break both physically and mentally. It worked out perfectly because my training ended right before Thanksgiving, and I was able to enjoy all the usual Mexican fixings with the family: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, mac 'n' cheese, rice, beans, salsa, chips, pumpkin pie and flan... tamales were missing this year :(
Some may worry that taking time off will make you lose those running "gains" you acquired during training; however, don't worry. According to the book, taking two weeks off from training will decrease your fitness by about 5 percent, which is pretty small in comparison to the training cycle. I have gained about 5 lbs., but I lost around 23 lbs. during training, so it's negligible in my eyes.
I will admit that my body has started to miss exercising. Just this past weekend after an AYCE sushi session, I could feel my body saying, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!" I usually listen to my body and how funny that now it's starting to tell me to get back at it at the two-week mark. That Hansons' book is onto something. :P
I did enjoy training properly for a marathon because giving my best is my main priority when running, and I definitely saw great results with this training plan. In my head, I've been planning my next move, and here it is. For the next two months, I will be shifting more focus to lifting instead of running in order to work on improving my body composition.
As I mentioned earlier, during the Hanson's plan I lost about 23 lbs.; however, I also lost muscle as well as fat. I need to recoup some of that muscle. Lifting, I believe will help with that and will also add some variety to my training. In the meantime, I will also be running enough to be in maintenance mode but not strictly concentrating on marathon mileage just yet; I plan to start that in February.
I believe by concentrating on lifting for a couple months and then focusing on marathon mileage will put me in a better "START" position, so I can continue to improve on my running and set my sights for another marathon PR goal. The way I see it, this structure worked last time, and I can work on "perfecting" it for the future by improving on what might have gone wrong last go around.
I'm currently in the process of deciding which lifting plan to do and which marathons to run next year; however, starting today, I started dusting off the cob webs from le olde legs. I ran an easy 2.5 miles although it didn't seem easy; it was kind of hard but after a mile I warmed up and got into a familiar rhythm. I also did a leg workout and some stretching and foam rolling. I felt good afterwards and I'm excited to get back to work. I will continue posting on social media about my current endeavors and will be more diligent on posting updates to my blog.
Finally, in regards to the Hanson's Marathon Method, I think it's safe to say that I give it my approval, and I would recommend it to anyone out there trying to improve their marathon experience. However, I will caution you if you decide to embark on this journey; this plan is not for the faint of heart. What I mean by this is that you have to be willing to put in the work, if you want to see the results. You can't just follow it for a couple weeks or a month and then expect the world; it takes time and dedication.
In the words of Jerry Rice, "Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." This doesn't just apply to running or fitness. It applies to anything you want in life that is worth having. Whatever that may be for you, get off your ass, stop making excuses and go do the work to make it happen!