I learned something after running 13.1 miles a couple weeks ago: there is such a thing as the post-half blues. I learned something else: it’s common and ok–especially after the first one. It’s kind of like that feeling you get when the wedding you spent a whole year planning comes and goes and then there’s this weirdo void that’s all up in your face so the next day you’re ready to plan another big event so you can fill that emptiness but…there’s no event to plan.
Truth: Right after the half, I cried. The next morning, I got on a plane to San Francisco and I cried again. The guy sitting next to me likely thought I had a legit reason to be sad. Sure, I did. But I just crushed a half-marathon less than 24 hours ago and I’m totally crying about it. I walked into my best friend’s apartment and instead of “yay,” I cried some more. I kept thinking, “What now? What will I work toward every day? WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY “YES” TO? Is it all over??? Will the Nike app even miss me?” Yep, I was a blubbering ball of sad.
I think this is why plenty of people sign up for another race right away. You miss the goal. I now get why you’ve all become those overzealous runners I used to shake my head at in disbelief. Now here I am searching for the next half-marathon or [even] full marathon in New York so I can have that connection again. We miss the goal.
The annoying thing is, I swore at mile 11 that I would never in my life do anything like this again. I swore that this whole running thing wasn’t my jam. I promised myself I would do more yoga, get back to CrossFit, and spin my heart out at SoulCycle more often. But I can’t stop looking for the next race. I can’t stop gazing at my running gear and those sweet, sweet Nikes of mine that ran more than 200 miles with me this year. So now what? Break that promise to myself? Yep. We break it.
Look, I took ten days off. I needed to. I didn’t do anything super physical other than eat Sloppy Joes and M&Ms and drink wine. I vegged on the couch in San Francisco, strolled through Vancouver and camped/slept a ton somewhere in Washington state. I reconnected with friends, I laughed, I breathed deep and I slowly let it all go.
I missed running.
So, in honor of Global Running Day, I’m saying it right here, right now: I, Fi, will run another half-marathon before the end of 2016. Yet, I will do it in a different manner this time. I will be chill about it. I will take my time training. I will listen to my body more than I did, stretch tons more than I did, and maybe not let it take up 97.6% of my life. There’s allegedly other things I have to tend to…
Today, I logged in 3 easy breezy miles, which included that nasty hill that beat me down during the Brooklyn half. News alert: I enjoyed it. Yep, I’m off to a good start already.
A friend asked me for some tips since she’s running her first half-marathon in July. I felt like Mr. Miyagi giving advice to Daniel-san. Like Mufasa showing Simba the way. Or maybe it was more like Jiminy Cricket explaining some obvious life lessons to Pinocchio. Anyway, I felt like a runner, experienced. Here’s what the old pro (that’s me!) sent to her:
- Don’t get a sinus infection before the race.
- If you do get a sinus infection, do not take your daily dose of antibiotics, plus Flonase, plus Claritin, plus Advil, plus gel packs and caffeine gum all at once. Just keep things to how you’ve always done them. Don’t change anything up. That caffeine gum was so gross. #neverforget
- Drink tons of water the week before the race. Like TONS. And the day before, drink all day long. I thought I had enough but I was a raisin by mile six. Maybe because of the above mixology situation but still…I definitely wasn’t hydrated enough.
- No need to crazy carbo load the night before since it’s a “shorter run” (than a marathon) but carbs are fun so why not enjoy a little? Just don’t go gaga if that’s not what you normally do. I made the mistake of not eating all day long on the day before and then loading at night. Try to keep your meals balanced throughout the day so you know you’re getting enough. You could potentially burn up to 3K calories during the run so you need this.
- In the morning, drink Gatorade/water, maybe eat a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter. Keep it light but carbs are good to include.
- A lot of the race is mental. For me, I knew the “big hill” was coming at mile 5 so it was all I thought about from mile 1-5. Then the hill came and I fell apart. I couldn’t stop thinking about the hill, how I had to pee, how my pace had slowed, those cramps I was getting in my left leg. Get out of your head as much as you can. Breathe deep, enjoy the breeze, and remember that if you put one foot in front of the other you will get through those hills, slopes and dips. Also good to remember that you’re not trying to win the race.
- I always listened to music when I trained. I had a playlist set and ready but then it became a distraction. I didn’t want to take my headphones out because this was how I had trained. I thought I needed the music. Finally, I took off my ear buds and listened to the cheers and other people running next to me instead. I felt like I could breathe again. Moral of the story: Your body will tell you what it wants. If it wants music, cool. If not, no big deal.
- To piggy back on that…listen to your body. If you need a bathroom break, take one. If you need to stop and stretch really quickly, that’s ok, too. Oh and walking is NOT a bad thing. There was a study that showed that some runners who stopped to walk finished at the same time as runners who didn’t stop. The runners who didn’t stop became a little more fatigued and slowed their pace. The runners who stopped gave their body a little breather and could keep up. So it’s totally ok to take a time out to gather yourself.
- I’ve heard, and from experience, that the first marathon is always a bit rough. I think that’s because of these expectations we place on ourselves. Truth: It’s going to be hard. It wouldn’t be a huge accomplishment if it was easy. So know that. It will not be easy. It will be a challenge. But you will do it because you’re not the type of person who will get to mile 9 and then peace out.
- You’re ready for it. This is what you set out to do so you’re going to do it. Don’t overthink any of it. The finish line will always be a stride closer. You do see it eventually! (I actually doubted I ever would.)
- Oh, and wear a hat.
Remember to have fun—this is a totally crazy thing and you’re doing it. Woo! You’ve got this!! xxfi