It’s now been just over two weeks since I’ve completed the 2016 London Marathon, and I’ve realised something: you don’t fully grasp how much running a marathon takes over your life until you don’t have one to prepare for.
Sure, I realised that the training was going to take up vast chunks of my time, requiring me to build my weekends around fitting in long runs and so on. But it was more than that: from the moment I was offered a place last October, I spent amazing amounts of time thinking about running the marathon.
I had to plot out that training plan, think about my diet, decide upon preparation races, try to work out my pace schedule, raise sponsorship (and, ahem, it’s not too late to support a great cause…), talk to my family about it, and even write
finely crafted words about it here.
My 2016 London Marathon didn’t last 3h 28m 17s – it lasted for six months or so. Six months in which a singular goal occupied a significant chunk of my brainpower and time. And now it’s done. So, errrr, what’s next?
Immediately after the marathon, the simple answer was to recover and relax. Waking up on the Sunday after the marathon and realising I didn’t have to jump out of bed and start building up for a long training run provided a welcome sense of freedom. As did not feeling all that guilty when I had a burger, a bit of chocolate or some other calorific food that was decidedly not expert running nutrition.
But that relief didn’t last too long. Because I started asking myself: what’s next? That question has taken me a long way in two years – because every time I’ve reached one of my fitness or running goals it’s prompted me to set another. The London Marathon was the culmination of asking myself that question multiple times.
Does something actually need to be next? Well, yes. I’ve worked quite hard to get myself fit and healthy through running. The only way I know to keep that up is to set myself new goals.
So… what’s next?
The obvious answer is another marathon and, yeah, I’ve already started thinking about that. But for the time being, I’m actually happy with the smaller commitment of shorter races. Races that don’t require months of long run training. Races that won’t occupy much of my brainpower for several months.
That’s why, ten days after the marathon, I headed to the home of the British Grand Prix on a beautiful Wednesday evening for the Silverstone 10k. And how, four days after that, I also ended up tackling the Larkfield 10k somewhere in the Kent countryside.
With my legs still very much recovering post-marathon, I didn’t trouble my 10k PB on either event. But that was hardly the point: this was running for the fun of it. And both events were hugely enjoyable because of that.
That’s why I’ve already entered six more races – a mix of 10k and ten-mile events – in the coming months (starting with a ten-miler this weekend…). That will keep me ticking over nicely until I decide on the next big goal – whether it’s the 2017 London Marathon, another marathon or a completely different race.
I might now have a marathon to dominate my thoughts any more, but that hasn’t stopped me thinking. And that’s why I’ll keep on asking… What’s next?