My fall half marathon came and went, and now I’m in limbo.
In years past, I’ve never been good about taking a break after a big race. Usually I take a couple days off. I remember once after the 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I took the Sunday as a rest day, and then was back cycling at the rec center on Monday. Not good. At least not in the long run (that pun was not initially intended.) I can’t prove that my injuries have resulted from not taking a break, but I do know that after both my half marathons this year I’ve taken a whole week off, and haven’t been injured.
After this summer’s race, my “reverse taper” was slow, focusing on quality over quantity. Instead of just racking up the miles each week, I began to strategically plan each run, asking myself, “What do want to do on this run? How do I want to benefit from it?” I aim to gain speed from shorter workouts, endurance from long runs, and strength from steady distances. On average I’ve been running about 30% less than I was at my peak, but it’s 100% more miles than when I was injured. As I gain strength, I’m adding a few more miles, but I still stuck to this reverse taper plan after my recent race.
I have also incorporated more strength & flexibility training AKA yoga. The power vinyasa yoga I practice conditions the body by strengthening and lengthening muscles, while also promoting cardiovascular and muscular endurance. In addition, I’ve been using my physical therapy exercises as my warm up routine. I was told by my sports chiropractor that my gluteus medius hasn’t been firing as it should when I run, so I’ve had to step up my booty game. I do prone and side planks, side steps with a resistance band, and squats.
So what’s next?
Besides enjoying running through crunchy leaves, soaking up the autumn sunshine while it’s still here, I’ve signed up for my first trail race. It’s a 6K race at Ferdinand State Forest, right before my birthday. I’m anxious to see how trail racing is different than road racing, and to relax & enjoy the ride as I know I will automatically get a best finish time for this new distance.
I’m also excited for my hometown Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving. In high school, my best friend and I would wake up, bleary eyed, throw on some sweatpants, and volunteer to hand out cookies at the finish line (while sneaking a few ourselves.) In college we started actually earning the cookies by running in the race. Thousands of people, sometimes entire families, turn out for this event, so unless you’re in the lead pack, it’s more about the festivities than the fast times. I love it.
Last, but not least, I’m thinking about doing some kind of 24K adventure for my 24th birthday in a few weeks. That’s about 15 miles. I’m not sure exactly what it’ll be like, if it’ll be running, or running and walking, or running and biking and walking, but it’s my birthday so I’ll do whatever is enjoyable.