Rest, recovery, and setting new goals have been the main themes of this week. I needed two days of rest to get over the soreness in my hips after race day, and then by the third day, I caught a cold which I'm still nursing today. So while I'm itching to get out and about, go hit the road for a run, or tackle the Grouse Grind, my body has told me firmly, "NO! Stay home!" I imagined this week as being one with two days rest, and then enjoying my last week off before I start a new job next Monday. So I imagined it wrong...big deal.
How much rest should I take after a big race? This is a big question of course, and the answer is individualized. They say it takes your body 1 day for every mile of your race to fully recover. So, I should take 2 good weeks to recover from my half marathon. Of course, this doesn't mean sit around and don't be active at all. It just means not to push myself too hard on any given day. I can do low-intensity runs: slower and shorter runs. I can cross-train - maybe swim, hike, or whatever else. But I certainly should not be going along with any urges the adrenaline-junkie in my is considering - to find a race and run hard again as soon as possible. The worst thing I can do is push myself hard and risk injury.
They also say it's very common to catch a cold within 72 hours of a high-intensity race like a half or full marathon. And yes, on the 3rd day after the race, I got that scratchy feeling in the back of my throat; I knew I was doomed. The intensity of the race, how it forces you to dig deep and push harder than you would in training, calls on your body to focus it's energy on the run and repairing your muscles - not on keeping your immune system in check. So while running is normally an excellent immune system booster, racing isn't. Note to self for next time - be hyper-sensitive of cooties post-race, and up the vitamin C intake.
So it's not been an ideal week since the race. My body is itching to go outside and run or do something to get the heart-rate and adrenaline pumping. I am craving it! And I am curious what running easy will feel like now after running hard at the race. How nice it would be to go for a run without my Garmin, so I have no idea of my pace, time, or distance; go run with no goal in mind except to enjoy running for the sake of running. But rest is what I need so I'll save my running ideas for next week. I considered going for a brisk-walk today, but after realizing I have suddenly dropped 5 lbs since race day, and almost passing out in the bathroom this afternoon, I'm opting for some couch-potato-ing for an extra day or two. One of the most important lessons I've learned through all my recent training is the importance of rest. It's just as important as the hard workouts - to allow your body to heal so you can perform optimally in future. I have to remember that, as I feel antsy trapped indoors sick. It could be so much worse if I were to push myself and hurt myself in the process.
All this time though has allowed me to focus mentally on what's ahead and set new goals. Training for this half went very well, and I know that I can complete my next half in much better timing. I know exactly how I could shave off a few minutes, knowing what we were on pace for, how the latter part of the race turned out, and what I learned from that experience. I know for certain I can do a half in much closer to 2 hours.
So you guessed it - my next goal is to do another half - my 4th half and do it in 2 hours. The race I have my sights on is on April 1, 2012. The idea is that the date of that race will be in perfect timing to have it be a "test" partway in training for, my ultimate goal, you guessed it, a full marathon on May 6th, 2012, here in Vancouver! I plan on registering soon so I'm committed both financially as well as mentally to both races. But what do you think? I think I'll be ready. I am good at staying disciplined in my training, and there's plenty of time to ready myself. Do you agree?