Charting A New Map

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since my last marathon and I’ve always struggled with how much recovery time is needed before training for the next.

Most people I encounter are surprised to hear that I run 3-4 marathons a year, a constant cycle of training and racing. There has been some method to my madness, but recovery from one race just a guessing game. It always begins with 4-5 days off completely from running and usually a gradual return to my routine.

With an injury still plaguing me – rarely does a run go by without a reminder of a pulled lower abdomen muscle – and the spring marathon season around the corner, I’ve struggled to determine when it’ll be time to resume training dedicated to racing 26.2 miles.

The plan for today had been to run 14-16 miles, the first “long” run on my return to training. My plan had been to simply go out and run without concern about pace, letting my thoughts wander and enjoy the freedom. Mother Nature had another plan for me.

Quite honestly, the idea of fighting wind chills dipping below minus-20 wasn’t all that appealing. So I went through the options: head to one of the indoor arenas (Concordia or Fargo South) and see if I could sneak in a long run, likely dealing with crowds and others using the track. Putting it off a day might provide more motivation to deal with the weather or patience to handle crowds. Or I could jump on the treadmill.

Option 3 provided to be the surest way to deal with my uncertainty, although I knew it meant fewer miles. Still, it turned out to be a good workout, with more than 11 miles and my longest effort since the Surf City marathon.

And now my thoughts are turning to what races I’ll do next.

Most likely I’m looking at a similar feat from 2009: run the Fargo Marathon in May and Grandma’s Marathon in June. The difference this time is there’s 4 weeks between the 2 marathons instead of 6 weeks. My hope for the fall still rests on running the New York City Marathon, although I won’t know whether my entry is accepted until the race lottery in late April.

Regardless of these races, I’m looking at charting a new map for 2011. This is the year when I run new places, find new challenges and discover new paths. Along the way I’ll undoubtedly find out more about myself and take some risks in my experiment of one.