Now what?

I finished my first marathon so it’s time for some updates and some new goals. I’ve been thinking about this since I crossed the finish line on Sunday, and here’s what my future looks like so far:

1. More Races

I’d like to do the Mad Dog Scramble on Halloween morning. It’s an 8km trail run. This would also be part of a switch to incorporate more trail running into my training. I believe this will help my cardiovascular capacities and teach me to pay more attention to my surroundings.

I’m also looking for a good 10k race. That was the distance of my very first race in Mississauga and I haven’t raced it again since then. I remember that when I ran it, it was really hard for me and I finished in 57 mins. Now I can run 10k in an hour every day like it was nothing, so I’d like to train for speed and see how fast I can push myself for time.

I have never run a winter race, so I’m thinking that might be a great experience. There are a few options, all shorter distances (mostly 5ks). So I’ll probably do one of those for fun. Right now I’m looking at the Resolution Run in Toronto the day after Christmas, but it seems extremely pricey ($50 for 5k??) so I’ll keep looking.

I am definitely doing another marathon next spring. So training for that would start around January. I’m going to pay more attention to my pacing and push myself on the hill and interval training. I’ll try for a 4hr finish time. That would be a big improvement but I have a lot of time and I think I can do it.

2. More Barefoot

Now that I have the longer distances out of the way, I’m excited to take some time to do more experimenting with barefoot running and build up my endurance. I still have mental roadblocks to overcome and I know that physically I need to take it slow. But I have time now.

I’m also currently trying to buy my first pair of Vibrams, but having some trouble finding them in Toronto. I saw two people in Vibrams running the marathon, and one person ran it completely barefoot. I had the opportunity to try on a pair, and they were super comfortable. I immediately felt like running.

3. More group runs

I realized after running with my pacer on Sunday all the incredible benefits I could be getting from more group runs. More than anything, pacing accountability and maybe some decent friendships. I’m always going to love my long solitary runs, but I would like to be a little more social from now on. Marathoning can be a lonely thing. There aren’t many people who really understand it. And I’m finding that more and more I’m starting to crave the company of other runners.

I’m going to be starting group runs at the Running Room store near my house on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. I’m going to try to go to my first one tonight, so I’ll likely be blogging about that experience at some point.

4. More focused gym sessions

I didn’t want to mention this before my marathon for fear of jinxing it, but I’ve now officially been running since 2007 and completed my first marathon injury-free. I’ve never once had a running injury.

I attribute it in large part to my gym trainer, who made a point of specifically developing and strengthening the muscles that would support my running. I feel like I have strong support around my ankles and knees and feet. And although I’ve stumbled several times, I’ve never gotten hurt. My trainer has even made me take off my shoes. I’ve never had a black toenail. Not a single blister.

I’d like to keep this up, so I’ll keep seeing my trainer. Lately she’s focusing on developing my core so that my form doesn’t get sluggish as I start getting tired.

5. More Swimming

Swimming so far has been the perfect compliment to my running. I find that running improves my swimming and swimming improves my running. The biggest benefit I get from swimming is learning to control my breathing. It also loosens my muscles and after one hour of swimming I feel like I’ve just done an entire day of yoga. I went swimming twice the day after my marathon (once in the morning and again in the evening) and I recovered beautifully.

I’m not swimming for speed yet, but instead taking my time and really getting to know my body in the water. I’m learning to control each limb simultaneously. I often have to consciously think about it, but it’s slowly becoming more natural to me. I’m also gaining confidence in the deep end.

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I’m in the middle of compiling some extra marathon anecdotes that I didn’t get a chance to fit into my race report. I’ve also gotten a couple more pictures in, and some extra stats. I’ll post those tomorrow.