A marathon is a significantly greater distance than a 10k race: Fact. What is also a fact is that since running a marathon, I have been almost incapable of running, let alone accomplishing 6.2 miles! Okay, so that's a slight over-exaggeration - for dramatic effect of course - yet, I have struggled. Everyone talks about the difficulties of training for, and actually running, the marathon distance but very few people discuss the difficulties that can occur afterwards. I wonder if this is maybe because the post-marathon - should we call it - trauma - too melodramatic?... Okay - difficulties don't affect everyone in the same way. In fact, in my observations, I've been able to categorise post-marathon runners into two distinct groups:
|Mmmm... Chris Evans!|
Group A - those that train for the marathon successfully, run it successfully, and recover quickly. They don't find it 'easy' - that would be impossible because it's very definitely not easy, I don't care who you are, even Superman would find it hard... although perhaps less so Captain America, he's very fit - in both senses of the word... anyway - no, they find it the same challenge as everyone else but there's something about it that means the whole process has perhaps felt more natural, perhaps they were lucky enough not to encounter any pitfalls along the way, or if they did perhaps they were just more capable of coping with it. Consequently, this group of runners also seem to benefit in their long term training from running the marathon; they become faster, stronger and better.
Group B - also complete the marathon. However, their training may not have been quite so successful; perhaps they picked up an injury, or they discovered that raising the distance was much harder than they thought.; for some reason, running at this distance didn't come 'naturally' and every step along the way presented yet another obstacle. yet, they persevered and conquered the distance. They are also within a select group of people who have taken on the tough challenge and succeeded. However, post marathon, they have continued to struggle; running feels difficult, sluggish and they haven't felt quite the same since.
I've been told by many people that full marathon recovery can take up to 3-6 months and certainly, I've seen that recovery affecting the people around me in many different ways. As a first time marathon runner, it's been hard not to compare myself to my running partner, someone I started out with, someone I ran my first official race with, and someone I used to cross the line practically holding hands with. She now lives in Group A: faster, stronger and a better runner as result of her first marathon. She's applied to London again next year, and if she doesn't get in, she'll run Edinburgh. Whereas, I am sitting very comfortably in Group B; In training I'm now a full minute per mile slower than my former training partner, struggling to control my breathing, to push my body and ultimately to regain my fitness and confidence.
However, I'm just as proud of myself; I don't always remember that - when I'm far behind the rest of the group at running club, or I finish a 10k race in over an hour, when my previous best time was under 50 minutes - but I am, I'm proud. I'm also frustrated. But I know what I need to do, I need to channel that frustration; pick up my running, enter more races and keep training until I'm back where I was... and maybe I need to pay a few more visits to Jo (the
evil lovely physio). And as I persevere, I'm beginning to enjoy running again.
On Sunday, I ran the Moonraker 10k. Nothing at all to do with James Bond... although I have always quite fancied life as a spy... the Moonraker is a friendly, hilly and enjoyable local race organised by Middleton Harriers. It was great fun. I loved it. It was also the first race of my offical running 'Come Back'. Despite the hot day and the first 5k of the race being entirely up hill, I managed to beat my previous 10k time at the flat, Great Manchester Run; I also managed (with the help of Coach Pete) to out race another runner in the final 1k, leading to (if I might say myself) a rather magnificent finish! And all of this sans-Garmin as I managed to leave it on the side in the bathroom when I went for my pre-race wee before I left home!
During January I coined the phrase 'Positive Running Belief' when, during a hill session, I discovered that if I truly believed I could conquer the hills, then I could. Since then, I've struggled to take my own advice. During the Moonraker race, I found it again. Throughout the race, I set myself little goals and I achieved every one. I'm now going to apply the same strategy to my training as I still have some way to go before I'll be completely happy with my performance; I was a full 10 minutes slower this year, than last on the same course. However, it is with small, achieveable goals that I will achieve my next post marathon PB, and that ensures that this time next year, I have a whole new, shiny and magnificent Moonraker 10k PB.