Setting a new running challenge post-marathon
What to do next after your marathon
Just because you've conquered your biggest challenge to date in the form of a marathon doesn't mean that you have to give up all your hard-won fitness and revert back to couch potato mode. So what should goal should you work towards after you've completed your marathon?
Setting a new running challenge post-marathon: Enter an event
With a full marathon under your belt, no distance or event should hold any fear for you. There are plenty more other events than there are marathons, so you should be able to find a new training option more easily. How about considering some of the following:
- Short distance events
5k, 10k or perhaps even a track event could suit you. Most tracks hold open events through the summer months, where you can pay a very small fee and try your hand at one or more of the popular distances – from a 100m sprint through to a 1,500m distance or a mile race. You'll just need to add some speed work to run well in these.
Off-road events have increased in popularity in recent years, and include several types of racing – from classic fell races through to the newer trail races. Off-road running will give you a completely new focus and give your joints a break away from the endless pounding of road running.
- Team-based events
Relays are great for helping you find your motivation due to the sense of camaraderie that surrounds them. Relay races can be anything from short sprints to long distance challenges. Whatever event you choose, being part of a team will add a whole new dimension to your running.
- Adventure races
Adventure races can involve a number of disciplines incuding running. Staged over a whole day, or sometimes several days, adventure races are team events that are ideally suited to anyone with a solid endurance base. Adventure racing can include any number of disciplines including running, mountain biking, kayaking, navigation, horse riding, rock climbing, abseiling and rope-work, plus mental challenges too.
Triathlon (swim, bike and run), duathlon (run, bike, and run again) or similar events are great ways of varying your training. There are plenty of these held in the summer months, and they are not just for Ironman competitors. Taking on other disciplines will add an element of fun to your training.
Setting a new running challenge post-marathon: Training post-marathon
One thing to bear in mind is that the endurance you've built up won't desert you overnight. You can keep you fitness ticking over by running ten plus miles once every couple of weeks. You can look instead to getting some speed into your legs, so shorter, faster-paced sessions should be your focus. Try some of the following training ideas:
- Forest fartlek. Head for the woods for an hour, and after a warm-up, run non-stop, continually varying your pace from easy to almost flat out, over whatever distance you choose.
- Do track sessions. The options for track sessions are almost endless – from mile repeats with varying recoveries to alternate 200m sprints and jogs. If you've never tried it before, you might even find that you're suited to speed training.
- Head for the hills. Hill training is simply speed-work in disguise, with the added benefit of building leg strength. Either choose a hilly circuit and put in fast-paced bursts as you climb each hill, or find one challenging hill and run a series of efforts up the hill, jogging back down after each one for a recovery.
Setting a new running challenge post-marathon: The marathon is not the end
Setting a new running challenge is easy and the marathon doesn't have to be the end to your running ambitions. There's a whole range of fun, challenging events, that with your solid base of marathon fitness, you can give a go. From a short track race to a multi-day, multi-discipline 'ultra event', you should not let that hard-won fitness go to waste. So give yourself new challenge now.