I've alluded to it here, but I've come up with a rough plan for my running. I'm in the getting my feet wet stage of that plan, and I'm already psyched about it. Hopefully, it will lead to good things.
Here are the basics:
1. Taking a break from marathons/ultras
2. Race more
3. Have fun
Let's look at each of those separately, even though they're intertwined:
#1: Through extensive scientific analysis, I've determined that my strength may lie in the shorter races. Additionally, in my return to running, I think I did it backwards: dove right into the longer races skipping right over the shorter ones. More importantly, I really dove in and tried to just run too much, too long, too soon. So, I'm going to break from those for a bit. It's not a divorce. We're just going to spend a little time apart. Once I feel like I've finished what I need to in the shorter races, I'll let the marathon move back in. In fact, the last run I've done of double digit mileage was the Bruiser, and in my recent runs, I'm already feeling much snappier. It's a good feeling.
#2: With that snappiness in mind, I'm going to try to convert that snappiness into racing more. Now, there's a difference between snappy and fast. I'm not fast. I don't expect to get to fast. I would like to get to kinda quick, though. But, the real reason to race more is simple: I like racing. I love atmosphere. I love the energy. I love competing. When I'm training for a marathon, I can't race too much. It's a long training cycle that builds up to the "big day." I feel like I've been missing out on what I love most about running. So, my focus will be on getting faster, but really...
#3. ...my focus will be on having fun. Now, I definitely not saying that I haven't been having fun. But, I was crushed this summer, and racing wasn't fun. (Do I really need to link to my Bruiser race report again?) Also, I don't want to imply that marathons/ultras aren't fun. No way. They can be super awesome. And, when I think they'll be fun, I'll be right back to them. Just not right now. So, here's what I'm thinking will be fun: snowshoe racing.
This winter, I'm going to give snowshoe racing a try. Never done it, but I'm looking forward to it. If I'm going to race more, I see no reason to do a bunch of "Frigid Fivers" on the roads all winter. Sounds like shin splints to me! No thanks. If anyone has snowshoe advice, I'll take it. It's going to involve a fair amount of driving, but I think it will be worth it. I'll no doubt do a couple road races here and there, too, including the most hated race on earth.
In the short term, I'm racing this weekend! On Saturday, I'm heading to the Wolfe's Neck Trek 5k. Wolfe's Neck is beautiful, and we used to run there once a week or so in college—I'll be fueled by nostalgia. My only goal for this race is to establish a baseline. I haven't been doing any real speed work, so I really need to find out where I am. Once I know what my current 5k race pace is, I'll now how to structure future workouts. And, I'll know just how far I have to go. I'm, most likely, also going to run the Feaster Five again this year (FREE PIE!), so that will also give me more data.
So that's the plan for this fall and winter. Looking way ahead, I think I'm going to give the New England Mountain Running Series a try. I guess I have a really twisted sense of fun.