Beginning Again

Week 1: Starting out on the road to the Marine Corps Marathon

I’ve found myself agreeing these past couple of weeks with the theory that you cannot start to train for your next race, until you’ve put the last one behind you.

I certainly needed a few days of breathing space having had a bit of a ‘mare’  in running a 4:15 time in the Seattle RnR marathon. I lined up for the race with a goal closer to 3:45, and despite running well through 16 miles, I bonked around mile 18, and had to really grind out the last 8 (with a significant amount of walking, which I hate), to get to the finish line. It was a hugely disappointing end to what I thought had been a solid and dedicated effort to my training. Not what I wanted, nor what I expected. A blow to my self esteem, and with my whole family watching on, a real all round disappointment.

Couldn't ask for a better support team
Couldn’t ask for a better support team

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Putting the last run behind me, getting some perspective, resting and recommitting my mind, body and soul to the next 18 week training cycle with the objective of arriving at the start line of October’s D.C. Marine Corps Marathon, in the best possible physical and mental shape.

So what have I been doing to get going again?

1. I took a few days off.

I did a couple of light runs the week after the marathon, but to all intents I downed tools for the week, ate whatever I wanted, and fought the urge to get right back at it the very next day. At the start of this past week, I was ready to slowly begin again.

2.  Gave myself a pat on the back.

Seattle was my 10th full marathon in 5 years. OK, it wasn’t my best time (and it certainly wasn’t my best experience), but at the end of the day it is still 26.2 miles – a long way any way you slice it. My training had me run hundreds of miles, achieve good levels of endurance fitness whatever my time said, and even helped me lose a few pounds along the way.

3. Got a little perspective.

So I had the runners equivalent of a bad day at the office. I wanted to run quicker, and for reasons I’ll be working through in the coming weeks it didn’t happen. I believe (although my wife and kids will be better judges of this than I), I was a better person around the house for putting the miles in, and was far better able to put some other life changes in their proper place with the clear mind brought by spending time on the open road. As my friend and accomplished runner Stuart Johnson commented after the race, “Smiles > speed”. Wise words, well spoken.

4. Revved my engines and started getting after it again.

Habits are hard to form and easy to break, so while the break was nice, I know only too well how a week off can easily become a month, and then you are fighting a battle with the calendar all the way to the next start line.

I reminded myself of all the great things about running, the enjoyment and the discipline of training, the feeling of achievement that you get by just arriving at the start line (never mind the finish) and of the need to set a good example to those around me, especially my kids, who saw me disappointed in myself, and are now going to see what it looks like to deal with that, move on and improve.

5. Started diving into the numbers and science.

There is a wealth of running data available to me around speed, pace, distance, frequency, cadence, heart rate, weight, elevation etc, not to mention revisiting the science and form of my training plan and putting greater emphasis on my diet. All of these things, plus simply getting out and running, and taking a positive and happy frame of mind into training will help make the next race a better race.

These are just some of the things I’ve done and am doing to get back on track and begin again. What about you? Had a bad event and needed to re-group, or had great race and didn’t want to rest on your laurels? I’d love to know what worked for you and what you have done or are doing to make sure your next race is better than your last one.

My numbers for the week:


Until the next time…keep on moving.

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