I did learn a few lessons during this journey, though;
- We can accomplish much more than we give ourselves credit for. I thought I had set a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) by trying to cut my marathon time by twenty minutes in four months but a tailored training plan really worked..It is really a question of putting your mind to it and sticking to the quality runs.
- You can't ignore the signals your body sends you. I had this nagging knot in my left shoulder and extremely tight calves - these both really screamed at me on mile 20 at the Disney marathon last January and I wasn't sure I could finish. During my training for Ottawa, I spent much more time stretching and had some massage therapy to make sure the muscles were relaxed and the kinks were worked out. It really made a difference and I will ensure to continue to develop more flexibility in my future training regimen. I read somewhere that a common excuse for not properly stretching is because workout time is filled up with putting in the necessary miles; but if time is such a constraint, you are much better served to cut back each run by a kilometer and spend that time stretching properly.
- You need to address the source of pain and deal with it mentally as well. I wrote in one of my newsletters about a pulled groin muscle that kept resurfacing every time I rolled my ankle on soft terrain or after long distances. I saw a physiotherapist/massage therapist for a post run stretch and massage yesterday and she pointed out that my muscularity in my legs was not balanced. This could be a result of this injury and my compensating for the pain during my runs. I will need to rebalance my adductors to make sure my pelvis is more aligned. I will therefore have to add some resistance exercises to my training plan. I knew that running alone was not the way to go for a long term fitness regime, resistance training is an important component to build muscle and in my case rebalance muscle symmetry. Also, don't underestimate the power of your mind. When I do feel pain during my runs, I recite a mantra over and over again to myself and remarkably, I no longer think about the pain.
So what comes next? I will be working on developing a more balanced training regime that will incorporate stretching, resistance training, and exercises and techniques to help me become a more efficient runner. Also, I will be running in San Diego next weekend so I will have a good baseline comparison of my ability to recover from one marathon to another within a week. My goal is not to be completely spent after 42.2 km so that one day, I could build up to greater distances.