By now, I’ve read countless articles that advise me every run should have a reason. While I do indeed have a purpose for my runs, I don’t think my sense of purpose is what is meant by the running experts writing those advisory articles. I might go out one day to see the sunrise, and another evening to loosen up after work and think things through.
One of my favorite runs is the day or two after a marathon. I’m one of those runners who believes that an easy run helps speed recovery by getting the blood flowing. The run a day or two after allows for reflection of what was learned, as well as the highlights of the race. I can’t remember what was going on mile by mile, but I usually have a general impressionistic sense of how my race progressed.
Each marathon is unique. Even those I’ve run several times are never the same, as my conditioning, the weather, and other intangibles all factor into the equation resulting in my finishing time. Spending a little time while running and thinking about running makes perfect sense to me.
If I ran well, I might be inclined to figure that my next marathon goal should be a bit swifter than the one just run. Sitting and looking at running articles and pace charts might tend to encourage that sort of thinking. Running, I am reminded of the effort it takes to complete a marathon and so am much more judicious in looking ahead to the next race. I’m more interested in running another marathon as soon as I can, so I’ll forgo some speed for getting to the start line again soon.
The post marathon run is delightfully shorter and less intense than the marathon itself. One’s sense of accomplishment lingers and it’s enough to just move along at a comfortable pace. Whatever remaining stiffness I began with starts leveling out. My form improves, my mood elevates and by the end I’m in tune with the essential basics of “just running.”
Lots of runners want or need recovery time of no-to-little running after a marathon. Others find they need a mental break from following a training schedule with numerous long runs. The running experts I’ve already alluded to will often advise taking a day off from racing for every mile in the race just run.
None of that works for me. While I like to think I’ll keep running forever, the reality is that some day be the one in which I run for the last time. As long as I am still able, I want to get my running shoes back on as soon as I can and start planning for the next marathon.
And right now, that next one is one of my very favorites. It’s the one I’ve run the most. We who are getting ready for it are the luckiest runners in the world. And I never, ever, take that luck for granted.