To be honest, I have fully embraced the triathlon “off-season” and have probably taken it a bit too far. As in, I run max 10 miles a week, I loathe my indoor trainer, and haven’t stepped foot in a pool for a couple months. I know this is going to make starting the new season even more difficult, but I honestly saw no other way to deal with my post-marathon struggles.
I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon for seven weeks, which I can now say is entirely too short of a training period for a marathon (hey you live and learn, right?!) After the marathon, I was left with bruised tendons in my feet, and was unable to run without pain for a month or two. Even now, if I push my run to anything further than 4 miles, I start to feel the jiggle of pain in my feet again. Honestly, after the marathon, I lost ALL motivation to run, or even compete at all.
Working out seemed like a chore, running was out of the question. For a while, I was mentally beating myself up about being “weak,” and really didn’t consider myself a real athlete if I couldn’t bounce back from this marathon. But now I’ve learned (the hard way, of course) that it is important to listen to your body. If you’re desperately tired, and can’t even fathom a work out, be kind to yourself and do what makes sense. Pushing yourself past your body’s capabilities is how we gain fitness, but push too far for too long and you’re at risk for losing all love for the sport.
So, instead of pushing myself to run again when it’s the furthest thing from my mind, I’ve turned to hitting the weight room much more frequently. I spent a week or two reevaluating my form for the major lifts (squat, deadlift, etc), and reduced my weight to hit the movements properly. In the past month I’ve increased my weights back up to my regular levels, just with proper form now. I’ve seen huge increases in flexibility and strength, especially when it comes to squatting. I’m really looking forward to seeing how much my strength gains will influence my bike this upcoming season.
(Here’s a video of my new and improved squatting technique; I’m getting much lower than I had been previously.)
I’m so glad I was able to take a much-needed break and humble myself enough to stop pushing for more and more fitness. It’s hard for a Type-A to swallow the concept that they might not be able to handle everything all the time.