Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What next? Running without a goal

I officially started marathon training in July last year, ran the Chickamauga Marathon in November, caught my breath for about a minute, then trained for and ran the Tallahassee Marathon in early February. Before the official marathon training started, I spent months training to get myself ready for my marathon training, and before that, I was training my way out of an injury. Before the injury, I trained for and ran two fall marathons in 2012. In other words, it's been a long time since I was not working toward a marathon.

Tallahassee went well. I did not reach my time goal, but I did accomplish one of my other goals, which was to cross the finish line feeling like I had run the best race I could on that day. I still don't feel like I have conquered the marathon. It's a totally different beast from the other distances I have raced, and even after five finish lines I still have a lot to learn. For now, though, I'm satisfied to give it a rest for a while. 

So now what? I don't want to run a marathon this fall. Correction: I don't want to train for a marathon this summer. It's one thing to run twenty miles when it is 50 degrees out, but quite another to do it when it's 85 degrees with 90% humidity, and that's what summer in Florida is all about.

In the next month, I'll run two 5ks and a half-marathon. The half will be the last opportunity for a long race around here until fall. I'm not going to stress over that one. It's the day before my birthday, and it looks like a party race. No time goals. No expectations. It's going to be fun.

But that leaves me feeling a little lost. Without a goal race, how do I structure my training? I don't want to get complacent and lose the gains I've made in the past year. On the other hand, my body is telling me loud and clear that I can't maintain the mileage and intensity of this last marathon training round.

So with no big goal race, here are a few mini-goals I might think about:

1.  5k PR: With all the focus on the marathon and dedicating most Saturday or Sunday mornings to the long training runs, I've missed out on shorter distance racing. It's been a year & a half since I ran my fastest 5k, and I know I'm faster now. I've got a 5k this coming Saturday, another two weeks from now, and most likely a few others before summer hits.

2. Trail running: Get a few friends together to run the trails. Something I've been missing.

3. Think about an epic relay for the fall. I've been approached about a couple of them.

4. Maintain the mileage. Maybe not 20 miles, but I could aim to run at least two long runs over 14 miles each month. It would make the next marathon or half-marathon training cycle that much easier.

5. More naked running. Not nude-naked, but free from technology. No watch, no music.

Food for thought.