Monday, May 9, 2016
Marathon Is Over... Now What? 6 Strategies to Keep Up My Momentum
So you might have heard: I had a successful 2016 New Jersey Marathon.
Training for the race, thinking about the race, writing about the race, boring all my friends and loved ones with my obsession over the race -- that's dominated my life for the past four months. And now it's done. So now what?
Time to Evaluate
I haven't really had enough time to evaluate my long-term goals. But the first choice I have to make is pretty simple: How much of my fitness regimen do I want to direct toward running?
Last year, I wrote about the benefits of being a generalist as opposed to a sport-specific specialist. Unless you have very defined goals, I think you're better off trying to mix up your fitness regimen to work on all aspects of your fitness -- strength, flexibility, mobility, speed, endurance, etc. After all, the rest of your life doesn't specialize, does it?
There is no question in my mind that, before this training cycle, I was in better overall shape. I know for sure that my upper body was stronger, and I definitely had better muscle definition. So I absolutely want to regain some of that.
At the same time, I've made positive strides (pun intended) in my running, and I don't want to regress. I do plan to run another marathon in 2017, and I'd like to maintain my running-specific and aerobic fitness levels, rather than have to start building from close to scratch next time around.
So I think the answer is the same one I had in January: and. Now comes the tough question: How do I ramp up my routine and I find the time and energy to accomplish everything I want to? And what about, you know, life?
6 Strategies to Keep Up My Momentum
Scheduling: Training for a marathon makes scheduling easy: You just follow your training plan. But a big key to keeping consistent in your fitness regimen is to have a routine. Now that I'm not on a specific training plan, I'm going to have to create my own schedule, to be sure that I accomplish what I want every week.
Maintain Successful Strategies: I wrote in a recent Facebook post that I'd like to stick with my new level of alcohol intake, without being a stick in the mud. That's going to mean leaving the beer to the weekends and limiting nights out to two or three drinks. Also, I need to do my best to get to bed on time, to maximize sleep, and to focus on my diet -- stuff I did well the past four months.
Keep the Mindset: After my first marathon in 2014, I got off a regimented schedule. And that led me to ease off the throttle a bit. I ran a fall half-marathon with sporadic training and an early spring half with basically no training. I also had about nine months where I didn't belong to a gym. What happened? I allowed myself to feel that three or four days a week with any exercise -- even just a 20-minute bodyweight session -- was OK. I gained weight, lost endurance and lost muscle definition. Last June, I started to fix things,being sure to do some kind of workout at least five days a week. And now: My goal is to bring purpose to every workout session, just like in marathon training.
Diversify: My wife has been bugging me to try yoga for a while. I think now is the time, concentrating on hip mobility, core stability and glute activation. I also want to work on plyometrics; the simplest plyos for runners is jumping rope. And I plan to keep weekly interval training on the schedule to work on getting faster.
Take Advantage of Vacation: I tend to concentrate my vacation days in the summer. Those days are a great time to ramp up on exercise, when you don't have the time pressure of commuting and work.
Keep Learning: I am certainly no noob on the roads, at the track or in the gym. But I'm no expert, either. I have lots to learn about pacing for various running workouts. And there is seriously no end to the number of strength exercises I could and should be doing -- not the least of which is the deadlift. I won't get better than I am now if I just keep doing the same old stuff.
Walking the Walk
If I can hit all these marks, I believe I'll be in much better shape to embark on another marathon-training cycle in the beginning of 2017, and I'll improve on my time. Now comes the hard part: Putting the plan into action.
And really, that's what being a Regular Guy is all about: Getting stuff done. Figuring out your fitness priorities and doing what it takes to reach your goals.
It kind of feels like New Year's Resolution time. So let's get to it!
What do you do after you've reached a big goal or milestone? What are your next steps? How do you avoid settling for good enough? Sound off in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.