Like a light switch, the weather in Denver has changed to spring-like temperatures. Like termites coming out of a soggy piece of wood, people are outside walking, running and bike riding in abundance. My favorite pre-spring race, Runnin’ of the Green, was held this past Sunday in downtown Denver. It drew over 5,000 people attempting to complete this 7K event, and the festivities afterward were jam-packed.
So, this brings me to the guts of my blog. Many runners who were at their peak training level last fall in order to complete a marathon or half-marathon, may have either drastically tapered or altogether stopped running after crossing that fall finish line. Combined with the cold temperatures, winter snow, dangerous ice and decreased daylight, the attitude of “I’ll just start running again in the spring” probably came to many minds. And, like every year, many runners did just that, only to gain a few pounds and possibly get a little lazy during those off months. Some may have kept an easy maintenance program or even went to the gym. But running for many basically came to a grinding halt, or at least a snail’s pace.
Now finally, spring is just about here and you put on the running shoes to head out for possibly your first run of the year. Surprise! Your mind still thinks you’re at the level you were at last fall, and assumes you can hammer out a quality run. Unfortunately, your body tells you another story, “hell no!” Your speed and endurance are all but gone. Realistically, how long did it take you to get into marathon or half marathon shape? Probably several weeks. So, realistically you shouldn’t even think that you’ll immediately be able to run at the level you did last fall.
Now the good news: Your body has great memory, so if you’re consistent, start off slow and build up your mileage, you will snap back in no time. But, I caution you to be smart and follow this advice, or you can increase your chances of injury that could knock you out of commission for a few months. Also, when you do go out and realize you’re not at the level you were just a few short months ago, the worst thing you can do is get frustrated or depressed. Play a mental game to see how much you can improve in relatively a short amount of time. That’ll make all the difference in the world.
Personally, I’m a late-summer and fall marathoner, and very rarely will do a spring marathon. However, I continue to run maintenance miles throughout the winter and spring, including a long run on the weekends (with some gym cross-training). By doing this, when it’s time to pick it up I can get back into my serious training rather quickly. Of course, my local running group, Runners Edge of the Rockies is key to keep me motivated throughout those dull winter months. I know at this particular moment I’m not close to marathon level, but do know from experience I will be by this fall. I’m just out there right now enjoying my runs and thankful I’m healthy and alive.
So, enjoy the ride, for soon you will be back on top of your running game!
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