I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been tempted lately to sign up for a winter race — and not just because it’d be a great excuse to get in tip top shape before wearing a white dress in April. (My goal is to grow Jennifer Aniston-esque biceps just in time to say “I do.”)
It’s been nearly a year since I ran my last half marathon, and physically, I’ve noticed a marked change. Keeping my daily morning runs to under 5 miles most of the time has greatly reduced the shin pain that plagued me last year. In fact, it’s nearly non-existent. I haven’t had toe tendinitis since Thanksgiving. And my perpetually sore piriformis doesn’t usually last longer than a day or so. When it does act up (say, like, during this weekend), it’s easily relieved with a foam roll or two. That and by begging Noah to knead the triggers that are causing the discomfort in the first place.
I can’t say I don’t miss certain parts of the race training process though.
There’s something comforting about signing up for a race, setting a goal, striving to reach that goal, and then (if all goes well) reaching it. Even in the face of disappointment, like I said, there’s always a post-race bloody Mary-filled feast that can block out all the details of what went wrong. Ultimately, whether success or failure, there’s something that’s endlessly satisfying about knowing what you’re working toward. There’s something special about that start to finish flow, from first thought to finish line.
Jokingly (but not really), Noah asked whether or not I’d be interested in running a marathon next year. My immediate answer: No. But a half marathon? I can’t say I can’t be convinced.
I’m not sure what to do, in all honesty. During the past few weekends (not including this one due to a faulty gluteus maximum), I’ve ramped up my mileage on more than one occasion, only to discover those small twinges of pain — whether in my knee, my shin, my tush — that have kept me from longer distances to this point. These signs are coming around again, and it’s really making me think.
So where do I go from here? I love that I’ve been able to return to a routine in which I can run at my leisure without forcing distance or pace. It’s been almost of year of pointless routes and runs at this point (my last race was the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon last September). And despite small spurts of boredom here and there, in the end, it’s been a real relief.
For all the times I craved freedom while training though, I’m maybe beginning to crave a bit of structure too. Of course, that race day morning excitement is part of the allure as well. And the finish line. That finish line feeling can’t be beat, and I’m definitely craving that too.
Have you been at this crossroads before? How did you decide what to do?