Thursday, February 18, 2016

Post-Race Thoughts

Thank you all so much for your support on my recap! I have to confess something here: I was worried about admitting I had run the full! After I made such a big deal out of choosing not to, I didn't want you all to think I'd purposely lied to make the reveal more dramatic or something.

Is that dumb?

Anyway, this week I've been enjoying a post-race glow. A few things have crossed my mind, some of them pretty random.

1. It's nice to feel sore after a race, especially a marathon! After BDR, I recovered very quickly and didn't have much soreness. Monday and Tuesday I definitely felt A1A in my ankles, knees, hips, and's the feeling of accomplishment!
(This video is never not funny!)

2. I have this weird feeling that A1A was the marathon my first could have been. If you guys recall, Space Coast training went well but I was on cold medicine during the race that led to crazy calf cramps I'd never experienced before. I think if not for that, my Space Coast performance would have been similar to A1A. There's no real point in making this comparison, but I almost feel like A1A was the marathon I've been aiming for ever since I first decided to run one.

Funny that I almost chose not to run it.

3. I haven't had a problem calling myself a marathoner, but now that I've run three, I really feel I've earned the title - especially because I've gotten the PR and the performance I've been wanting. I finally feel proud of a marathon I've run, and I didn't realize until now how important and fulfilling that would be for me.
Third time's the charm.
4. I'm almost happier with BDR now that A1A worked out. In a way, it turned BDR into a training run. It definitely tested my mental strength and prepared me to suffer in a way Space Coast didn't. Space Coast was my first, so it was automatically wonderful; I had nothing to compare it to, and I was just amazed and glad I had finished. BDR left a bad taste in my mouth, but it humbled me and strengthened me. I'm grateful for that awful experience now! It's also a great reminder that often success isn't a linear path; sometimes we have to struggle and fail before we can succeed.
5. I think when I do eventually run another full, I'm not going to be really specific here about which it is. Obviously I'll post my training, because that's why I have a blog, but maybe I'll keep mum on the specific race. Keeping A1A "casual" really seemed to help me mentally and kept me focused on why I was running it in the first place.

6. I'm having a hard time parting with my temporary tattoos...especially the pacing one! I know it's silly, but looking at it reminds me of what I finally accomplished.
I did finally try to remove it on Tuesday, but without much luck.
7. I am proof that what I've been saying about failure is true: it doesn't define us, but it can make us stronger and better. There's no shame in failing, because it means you actually took a risk and tried, and in the end, if you learned from it, then even failure can be a success.
8. I'm feeling weirdly motivated right now in the sense that now that I know I can run a faster marathon, I want to keep doing it. Sub-5:00 feels almost doable now. But I'm 100% committed to shorter distances this year. I don't want to give up long runs completely because when I eventually do another full, I'd like to be a stronger runner, and that means keeping a good base; plus, I need to get faster at all distances. (And I want to get Elizabeth to 15 miles!) I think being faster and having a good foundation is really going to be fundamental to my continued growth as a runner.

Number eight is really important; it marks the first time that I'm making a decision in my training that will hopefully truly impact me in the long-term. It's also the first time I'm giving myself permission to dream about being a "faster" runner. It's a scary goal because it feels unreachable, but I'm determined to try.

That said, I have no idea how to start, so I'm going to need to do some research about how to get faster when you don't have a goal race in mind! I just want to get faster over all. I can't picture myself as an 8-minute-miler or anything like that, but I'd like to see if the vision I do have of myself - as slow and steady - can change.

Any advice on learning to be faster?
How has running new, challenging distances changed your perspective? 



Megan @ Meg Go Run said...

It is so crazy that in the span of two months you went from a one time marathoner to a three time marathoner!!! :) I am so proud of you. And I am excited that you are focusing on getting faster. You WILL see a 4:XX:XX marathon, I know it! Tips to run faster: Run fast! Not every day, but one or two workouts a week. Do interval training one days, (I seriously don't think it matters what, 400s, 800s, whatever, you will get faster) and then another day do a run a little faster than what you normally would. Maybe find a friend who runs a little faster than you to do this with. That could make it more fun!

Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor said...

I follow this super speedy runner on Instagram, and he's shaved hours off his marathon time in a shockingly short amount of time. He had a post the other day about how his secret is that he simply ran more easy miles. Like, lots of easy miles. He didn't just sign up for race after race and push himself to get super fast for each one, he just ran more. It echoes what I've heard from a lot of runners: they got faster simply by running more. No specific training plan, no elusive "get faster NOW!" secret, just running more miles and making running a bigger part of their daily lives. Obviously one should still do hard workouts and such too, but I think we underestimate the power of simply practicing running more, and consistently.

Your #8 point is what's so hard about marathons: you get a taste of success and it's impossible not to want more. Sometimes, for me, I wonder where will it ever end, when will I finally have that finish time I'm satisfied with and don't feel the need to beat.

Annie Crow said...

I agree, #3 was the one I felt most proud of (even though it didn't go at all the way I hoped) and the one where I really felt like a marathoner.

By the way, oil works well with those temporary tattoos (canola, olive, mineral, doesn't matter which kind).

Girl Goes Running said...

You must feel so proud of yourself! That is an awesome achievement :-) how I tend to focus on my speed is to either run hilly routes or do intervals. I don't enjoy doing intervals but they do work! Peanut butter will get the tattoo right off ;)

James Douglass said...

I have no idea if it works the same for running, but in paddleboarding they say your long endurance speed is a certain percentage (maybe 80%?) of your maximum sprint speed. So if you train to increase your sprint speed, your long endurance speed comes up with it. If sprint interval training is no fun, maybe you can just do your regular runs, but make a point of sprinting the last couple hundred meters? When I used to run with my grad school roommate we would do that, and it always felt like way more of an effective workout when we did. PS- I sure do enjoy following your blog and I'm happy to see you extra stoked about running lately. :)

Sarah said...

This is SUCH a great post! The days after a marathon are filled with reflection. I know exactly what you mean about the race that you were supposed to have. If bad weather or sickness or some weird injury goofs up your race, you don't get to test out your training and your head and your guts the way you do when external factors cooperate. So glad you got this chance!

On getting faster? Of course you can run a sub-5 marathon. I think you can go quite a bit faster than that if you decide you want to. Faster marathons *are* about long-term planning. For me, I've often added one element per training cycle, so as not to get overwhelmed. So one cycle, get serious about the weight room. Next cycle, add some tempo runs. Next time around, add track work. That was pretty much my pattern and it has really paid off. But don't do all of that at once or you'll make yourself crazy, get hurt or burn out. Speed at faster distances is also going to teach you a lot - of course you can be an 8 minute miler. Frankly, you could probably run faster than that! One step at a time. Can't wait to follow you on some more of this journey!

Tales from the Back of the Pack said...

Your marathon post was SUPER inspiring! I have a couple of terrible marathons under my belt and feel weird about calling myself a marathoner. Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm. :)

yogaontherun said...

Learning to run fast can be hard, but it's important to practice. As you know, I was a sprinter, so when I picked up long distance running, I actually had to learn to not burn myself out. Regardless of what your tendency is, you need to do tempo runs and short bursts of speed. The tempo runs will teach you the pace (and maybe get you to that 8 minute mile), but the short bursts will teach you the form. You should check out Sage Canaday's (I know, Im like in love with him) youtube page. It's called VO2Max Productions, and he has a lot of great videos about training to get faster.

Ali K. said...

Ha, it seems so simple! Run faster!

I guess this year I'll need to do speed work more than just once a week or so...I'm excited for the variety that means I'll get to play around with!

Ali K. said...

When I originally began running, just doing more miles really did help. I went from an 11 minute miler to around 9, but then slowed down again once I began running MUCH more (for marathon training). So I guess that means I need to find a good balance and remember what fast running feels like!

Ali K. said...

I guess it's true that with marathons, like most races really, it takes some practice to become "good". And the distance is so extreme that we don't get as much practice as we do at a 5k or the like. I feel like I've proven to myself that 26.2 wasn't a one-time thing, and that I can be good at it eventually if I work at it.

Ali K. said...

I don't enjoy intervals, but I guess if I have to, I'll learn to live with them haha!

PB?! That's a neat trick!

Ali K. said...

Hm, I do know that some runners add sprints into their runs or at the end of their runs. I can probably commit to doing sprints after my easy runs so that even on those days, I'm not slacking on speed!

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and commenting! I like reading yours too; it's fun to see how the challenges and triumphs of the two sports are so similar.

Ali K. said...

It's so true that especially in a bigger or longer race, a goal race, those bumps in the road feel so UNFAIR. I'm really glad I had the chance to overcome it.

How long is each "cycle" for you? Do you keep each new workout as you add another? I don't want to become the person who has to spend like 100 hours a week training, but I do want to commit fully and improve my running and my times.

Ali K. said...

Thank you! I think the marathon is such an amazing distance to conquer no matter what, so I feel bad not feeling like a true marathoner until this one, but I really feel like I ran a race to be proud of and that helped. A race where I didn't walk too much and kept the pressure on throughout the entire thing. Something just clicked for me this time! I know it will for you, too.

Ali K. said...

I think I've forgotten the difference between hard effort/speed and sprinting, so I'm always worried I'll burn out and won't make it back to my car haha! I've always been TERRIBLE at tempo runs, so I think those will need to be something I really learn to embrace.

Christine said...

I'm still learning to be faster. For me, the biggest improvement has come from being more consistent. Keeping my weekly mileage around 20-25 has been the biggest factor in picking up a little speed.
I'm excited that your race went well!

Ali K. said...

I think that's going to be a goal for me...25 miles a week. Usually on my "off" season I'm around 18-20 miles, but I think keeping the mileage up will help!

Kim Fannin said...

I'm so proud of you and I'm so glad you had a great redemption experience at A1A. By the way, I totally feel like you getting faster in shorter distances will really help you attain that sub 5:00 marathon goal. :)

Ali K. said...

Thanks Kim! I think so, too! The trick will be remembering what fast feels like and being willing to be uncomfortable in that zone for longer distances haha.