We runners are a unique breed. How long after finishing a grueling race are you thinking about signing up for your next one?
For me, it’s usually a few minutes.
While I’m still taking my time recovering from the marathon, setting new goals is something I like to do right away. I’m going to take a break from long distances for a while and for the first time in three years, I will not sign up for a spring marathon (please, somebody stop me if I do!).
I’m planning on sharpening my speed and racing shorter distances only. A lot of them.
So while I’m got my feet up for now, this spring will be quite different from what I’m used to.
My coach at Runners Connect is in favor of switching focus. “If you want to run a fast marathon,” Coach Danny says, “you have to stop chasing the marathon each spring and fall, year after year. Be a better well-rounded runner.”
The idea is to view the 5K to 10K races as a third workout in a week. If you are racing, you don’t need a long run every single week to maintain endurance. “I like to race or get a third tempo/hills/speed workout in one weekend and then a long run the next. Alternate between the two,” he told me.
So starting next month, I’ll line up for a 5K and try to race about every other weekend. To keep me motivated, I finally joined the Asheville Track Club so I can compete in their Grand Prix Series. To qualify for a monetary prize at the end of the year, I’ll need to run at least 10 of their approved races and the higher I place, the more points I’ll get. Hopefully, I’ll do well enough that the majority (if not all) of my race fees are paid for! There’s some pretty tough competition on the women’s side this year, so we’ll see how it goes.
The other goal I have is to get back to more serious strength training. As I wrote last summer, I had to give up my favorite tough ST class because it was making me too tired and sore for running well. Now that I will be decreasing my mileage, I’m hoping that I can add more strength back in.
The speed work and the strength training should also help with my body composition. As any marathoner knows, logging tons of miles does not always lead to weight loss. I had the highest volume I’ve ever had last fall and I still could not get down to race weight. In fact, I was 8 pounds heavier at the start of Charleston than I was at Boston, despite keeping my diet the same, if not a little better.
Obviously, I was faster even though I was heavier, but that is most certainly due to the training. Weight is not everything, but is does make a big difference as I wrote about last year, so I’m hoping I can get in top shape this spring so I can race faster in the fall.
Most importantly, I’m looking forward to the change in focus this spring. I’m the type of person who loves the process of marathon training, just putting my head down and doing the work. Maybe I’m a masochist who enjoys the punishment or maybe I’m a martyr who likes to be seen suffering for a goal.
But I don’t think that’s really it. I love that in running hard work equals accomplishment, which is not always true in the rest of my life. Actually, that’s not always true in running either, but most of the time it feels that way.
I have not chosen a fall marathon yet and I’ll take my time to decide. But whatever it ends up being, I’m hoping that by skipping a marathon this spring I’ll be ready to crush some big goals this fall.
What do you think? Do you race marathons every spring and fall? Or more? How do you fit shorter races into your schedule?