Tag Archives: post-marathon

Untethered

Standard

Normally the first week after a marathon, I walk around the house like Frankenstein, and I have to descend the stairs backwards. The honor of carrying laundry baskets to the basement falls to the strongest of the Wellman offspring, or whomever happens to be in sight, which is why I don’t wear shoes in the house (it makes it easier to sneak up on them).

Historically, it takes a solid month before I can pick up the adjective ‘runner’ and apply it to myself.

Maybe I was still riding the ‘high’ of my fabulous 26.2 mile jaunt around the Fränkisches Seenland, but the day after the marathon, I found myself up bright and early and out the door to escort the kids to the kletterwald.

The last time I had chaperoned a trip to the high ropes course, I had a broken finger, so all I could do was sit below and snap pictures one-handed while balancing a cup of coffee on my knees. The kids had a blast, but frankly, it was less than fun for me (though the coffee was surprisingly good).

So this year, Frankenstein though I be, I was determined to join the fun at the high ropes. I was surprised to find I could scurry over rock walls, maneuver across spidery nets, zipline from tree to tree, and go up AND down ladders without too much trouble.

The fun was only increased by the fact that my buddy (another AWESOME homeschooling mom:) was harnessed up too.

But to be totally honest, I was in pain the next day, with my legs more zombie-like than before.

However, it only took two days before I felt good again, which considering my history, is nothing short of a miracle.

I have been running since the marathon, but I feel untethered not having a race in site. My calendar is frighteningly blank, and it scares me.

I fear that I’m going to fall off the training wagon and end up undoing the months of hard work. This sounds extremely shallow, but I fear gaining weight again–and I still have some to lose: not because of body image, but for the sake of my knees and feet, I want to lose at least 15 more pounds.

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true–I would like to have a flat stomach and for once in my life have thighs that don’t need their own zip codes. I simply feel better in my own skin when there is less of it flopping over my waistband.

Not having a plan scares the jeepers out of me because I know how utterly lazy and easily distracted I am. I’m like the kid who will happily do anything you ask, as long as it’s written out on a chart, and with the possibility of getting a gold star. But if there’s no chart and no promise of a sticker, the kid will sit there staring at the wall while twirling her pigtails, lost in her own daydreams.

So where is the gold star when there’s no race? I write philosophically about the joy of running, how it relieves stress, centers me and makes me a better wife and mother, but when I don’t have a race in mind, those dreamy notions easily get shoved aside until everyone in the house is begging, “Please, Mama–go for a run!”

Did I tell you? I tend to get cranky when I haven’t been running.

So, you find me a little lost today; and I think the only remedy is to make some new goals and to start filling up my calendar.

Does anyone else feel this way after meeting a big goal?

Advertisements

Back to Basics

Standard

Three days after the marathon, I found myself hobbling along the farm road, feeling like a post-operative surgery patient. My legs were stiff, my joints barely moved, my knees complained, and I had a weird pain in my right arch.

I walked for most of the two miles before I returned home, whereupon I proceeded to eat as if I’d just run a second marathon. I don’t know why I’ve had the craving lately to dip my gluten-free crackers directly into the jar of organic almond butter, but I’m assuming my body needs it in order to ‘repair’ muscle tissue or a slightly bruised ego…comfort food, I suppose.

In the past, I’ve been known to completely fall off the training wagon after a marathon, so this year, my goal is to keep up the miles. And though I ran 30 miles last week, in many ways I feel I’m starting all over again. I’ve had to re-evaluate not only how I run, but why I run.

I can put any kind of spin I like on running, but the fact is: my last marathon was pretty much hateful. The only thing I enjoyed about it was finishing with my kids. Matter of fact, I nearly started to cry when I ran down that final hill because I was so incredibly joyful for it to be OVER.

That is not the kind of running I’d like to do.

I want to get back to that happy place where I truly loved running. I know that some people will think I’m crazy for saying this, but it is the place where the physical pain of the long run is part of its charm: a challenge to overcome–not something that swallows you whole. It is the place where the physical effort allows you to think more clearly and to absorb the miraculous details of things you often take for granted, such as deer, pink clouds or a field of sunflowers waiting patiently for dawn.

For me, running had always been a way to feel closer to God–a time of prayer, thankfulness and mediation on the beautiful, living world. But somehow I lost it. I got worried about the numbers and the accolades.

While I didn’t totally blow the marathon (I DID actually finish in a decently slow-ish amount of time and could still walk afterwards), it wasn’t a satisfying experience this year. And it wasn’t because of the elements or my knee or the hostile competitors–it was because of me.

I had stopped loving the long run.

So, I am now back to basics. Just like a patient recovering from surgery, I’m learning how to run again.

I am not running for the numbers or to impress people, but I’m running because it is something I love–something that is a huge part of my life, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Of course I would like to be faster, but honestly I would rather run slowly and enjoy it than run quickly and hate it. Why bother?

A marathon can teach you a lot about yourself–especially when you have 4 1/2 or more hours for introspection. And while I don’t always like what I learn about myself, I am glad that I went through the experience, just so I can make a change for the better.

Ideally, at least for me (a non-competitive athlete), a race should be an outward expression of my love of running, not the brutally final goal.

As I ran along a quiet forest path this week, with rain coming down in a fine mist and pine trees towering over me, I felt small, strong, and slightly lost, but content as I began to fall in love again.

I am optimistic that my once intimate relationship with running isn’t beyond repair, and that the spark will ignite into something that keeps the soul warm.

I’ve already started looking for the next marathon.

Tuscany has a sweet sound to it!