Alright y’all–it’s time for some Thursday thoughts (linking up with Running with Spoons). Almost everyone I’ve talked to about the marathon has asked me the same question: would I do it again? I’ve flip-flopped a little bit on my answer, but now that it’s a big fat YES. Sure, the training schedule was tough, the last 5-ish miles of the race were pretty painful, and my right knee is still recovering.
But I have a couple of things to prove to myself and I really loved the whole training process (and of course, the endorphin high!) And because I’m super goal-oriented–I want that sub 4:00 marathon. After running by far my fastest half (1:46) during training, I know I can do it. So here’s my after-action review and what I will do differently for my next marathon.
More hills and speed: I was pretty laser-focused during this training cycle on counting miles–it was all about checking the box and getting in the specified mileage each day/week. I purposely chose a training plan that was mileage-based (this one, if you’re curious) and didn’t spell out when run hills or do speedwork… and then I ran a really hilly (or bridge-y) race. I did run my fair share of Newton hills during training but I wasn’t strategic about it, and I felt the effects of that during the race. Also, I just didn’t do speedwork. If I felt good on a shorter run I would push my pace, but I didn’t do intervals or sprints on the reg. Adding both intentional hill training and speedwork would definitely get me to the next level.
More strength training and core work: I think strength training is every runner’s secret weapon–and because of that, I did yoga at least once a week during training. The problem is that you never know what you’re gonna get in a yoga class, and it may not end up being what your body needs. Next time, I would love to have an at-home runner-focused strength circuit to commit to doing multiple times a week.
A personal training plan: Dovetailing off of the two points above, next time I’d hope to sit down (maybe even with a running coach) and make a plan that meets my particular needs and goals. I don’t think training is one size fits all, and a tailored plan would help me reach my goals and still stick to the things I know work for my body (lots of yoga, no more than 4-5 runs a week, during the week mileage that adds up to at least my total long-run mileage).
Not running a big city race: The NYC marathon was an incredible bucket list race, but traveling to a big city added a huge amount of time and expense. Next time I’d hope to try for a smaller, less logistically complicated race–I’ve heard across the board that small local races are the perfect places to PR. I guess that’s why so many people (like my speedy big bro) choose to BQ at teeny tiny races like the Sugarloaf marathon!
Not running for charity: I really loved running for the Celiac Disease Foundation (and thank you all SO much for your support) but fundraising on top of running is a huge added stressor–and this is coming from a professional fundraiser! I think next time around I’d like to focus more on running and less on money.
The one thing I would definitely, 100% for sure do again? Train with a group! Having the built-in accountability and camaraderie of training with a group was absolutely essential. I’d recommend a group like Boston Fit to any first-time marathoner. I especially liked the flexibility of the program–it really worked for any fall marathon. Plus these peeps–what a rockin’ crew!