Recovery & reflection


It’s been a week now since the marathon last Sunday. A time for rest and reflection.

I knew that my body would be sore on Monday, the day after the race, but I hadn’t been prepared for quite how sore I would be! I had set the alarm for 6am as I was due to have a meeting in Perth at 8am. I tried to get up and see how I felt – the answer was quickly revealed! So I sent an email, cancelled that meeting, and went back to bed.

As the week went on the soreness eased. I had a massage on Tuesday evening, which helped ease the pain. By Wednesday morning I was heading back out for a short run – just 15 minutes, part of Greg McMillan’s marathon recovery plan. I hobbled around the village, but I was delighted to get out for a run!

By Friday much of the soreness had gone and I did another 15 minute run, this time after work – a great way to end the working week. There was still a bit of soreness in my ITBs, but other than that I felt fine and the pace was pretty decent.

It’s Sunday today and I’ve just done an easy 30 minute run, 2 laps of the village. No ITB pain this time. It’s good to get back out running, even these short easy runs, they’re part of who I am.

With a lot less volume this week, I’ve had time to reflect on the race and on the training I did beforehand. I only started running seriously again in late March, so taking on a marathon 6 months later was always going to be a big ask. I had the endurance for around 18 miles, but beyond that I was always going to struggle.

Thinking back to my training, and now knowing what the last 10k of a marathon feels like, I realise that I didn’t fully commit on those long training runs (beyond 18 Miles). Those were the runs where I found myself having to stop, to rest, to take a picture of ‘that great view’. What I really needed to be doing at that point, in hindsight, was gritting my teeth and pushing on. But I guess you only realise that after you experience the marathon for the first time…..

I also need to train more on hills. We live in a valley, and most of my long runs had been on the flat valley roads. That’s fine if you’re going to be doing a marathon in Berlin, but Loch Ness was anything but flat. So more hill work will be on the agenda this winter.

Finally, I’ve had a chance to chat with Coach Greg McMillan after the race and look ahead to 2018. He’s keen for me to focus on shorter races next year, to work on my speed, which we can then take into a Spring 2019 Marathon. So it looks like I’ll be focusing on 5k & 10k races in Spring 2018, and then moving onto half marathons next Autumn.

I’m excited about this, as I like the variety of training for different distances, and the one thing I’ve missed this year has been running fast. I then know that I’ll be going into the 2019 marathon properly prepared, and a PB will be on the cards.

For now though, the next few weeks are about continuing the slow recovery, then we’ll move onto building a solid base. Joanna, Rebecca & I are in Lanzarote for a week early November, so it will be good to get some longer runs in the heat and sunshine.

For those of you that have raced a marathon, what were the biggest learnings you took from your first race?

New shoes arrived on Friday!

12 thoughts on “Recovery & reflection

  1. Sounds like a great plan! Hill work is something that I used to skimp on and I aways paid the price on race day. The course description would say, ‘fast and flat’ … and I would die going up the hills that I didn’t expect on a ‘flat course’. Lol. It is all relative.
    That is pretty incredible that you jumped right into marathon training not long after you started running again. I did a similar thing with the half marathon. Started running in Spring of 2012 and finished my first half in October 2012. Glad your legs are feeling better and that you can enjoy running again!

    1. Haha, yeah, there are hills everywhere! I just avoided training on them….. In hindsight, a marathon was quite ambitious this year, but I’m glad I did and that I now have a time to aim for 🙂

  2. Your plan for 2018 sounds so great Ali, I am inspired by it. I think the one of the many Things I will take from training for a marathon is that I want to be someone who trains–if that makes any sense. Even if I’m not doing another marathon, I always want to train and have goals, and races to look forward to, no matter their distance. And working on getting faster sounds like so much fun to me, I can’t wait to really work on my shorter race times. I love intervals and hill work, I really like the way those things make my body look and feel–probably even more than the really long distance work. Anyway, glad your legs are feeling better and you are getting back out there!

    1. I totally get that Cat. The goals and races are the targets that give us something to train for – I think like me you enjoy the journey, and training for different distances means that we’re not just doing the same thing over and again. How’s your week been?

      1. The week has been really good Ali! I just finished 18 miles today–18 good ones!! I actually cried after-which I guess is no surprise cause we know I’m a crier. But I just really had one of those moments where I was actually really proud of myself and kind of amazed that the hard work is resulting in me doing things I never thought I could. You were so right about last weeks shitty half that I had–it was the most valuable thing ever, it had to happen!! My head was in much better shape heading out today and it showed in the miles. I also had your words in my head at 16.5 miles about pushing past that pain. I had to stop briefly to fill up my water at that point after not the best planning and when I tried to start back up again it was SUPER painful. But I remembered you saying that practicing pushing through that pain was really important. I really easily could have stopped, but I looked at my watch and knew I could do it, just had to put my head down and keep going. I swear, I’m carrying people from all over the world with me on These runs, it’s pretty amazing!!

  3. Just caught up on your race report, big congrats on the result! You may have just been a hair over four hours, but as you said, its a great time and an excuse to prep for another one soon 😛

  4. I know I wasn’t as prepared for my first marathon (honestly though, I can say you were way more prepared than I). And those last 6 are never easy. I have a friend who ran a marathon in Savannah, GA in November 2016. She was running around a 7:45 minute/mile pace through 20 miles, but the last 6 miles took her an hour to finish. This was her third marathon (She’s qualified to run Boston every time), and she’ll run 24 miles before race day, and even she felt it. I know for her, the last six miles were on an interstate with no shade (even though Savannah wasn’t steamy in November, it was still hotter than Indiana) and she said a lot of it was uphill. Just looking at how she runs and the takeaways, I think knowing the course is a big thing. Still, she got a PR that race and was 11+ minutes under her qualifying time for Boston. She’s a machine!

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