Why rest is so important for your marathon training

The road to NYC is rough. As positive as I was at the beginning of my marathon training, I hadn’t counted on my body not delivering. And it all started out so great. My schedule proved to be the right one for me. Increasing mileage went smoothly. I had fun in running. I felt great. Strong. And then I got cocky. And I broke the number one rule: always listen to your body. Well, I did listen, of course I noticed the signs, I just didn’t act on it. Rest? I don’t need that! I’m stronger than that. Yeah, you can call me stupid. It all started with a minor infection. One that asked for an antibiotic. It helped. Of course it helped. That’s what antibiotics are for. But it asked a lot of my body. I felt better after a week. The fever broke. The pain was gone. I felt good. So, what’s the harm in running 27 kilometers. No matter that I didn’t run in a week. That my body had to work extra hard to beat the infection. Be strong. You can do this! Well, I soon found out my body didn’t agree with that assessment. 

Look, it really is simple:  I am by no means an experienced runner. The NYC marathon will be my very first marathon. Ever. But even I know that I won’t run it on a peanut butter bagel and a run once in a while. No, if I want to finish that thing with a smile, than I will have to train harder. The internet is stock full with good advice, training plans and running clubs, so no need to do it all on your own.

The training schedule of Jeff Galloway is not too hard physically and still prepares you for an injury free marathon. 

But how to filter the right info for you out of all those well meant advises. Which training plan is good for you? I chose for Jeff Galloway. His marathon training is physically not that hard. It fits perfectly in my workweek. My body slowly adjusts to the mileage. The plan is simple: two 30 minute runs during the week and one long run in the weekend to up the mileage.  Seemingly without any effort the plan taught me how to run a half marathon. I ran half a marathon every two weeks. And I loved it! And I didn’t doubt for one moment that I could run a full marathon with this plan. But you have to follow the plan. This means rest your body when Jeff says rest.  And you listen to your body even if you have to let the plan go for just a short while.

It is true: rest is just as important as building mileage. 

I had all the time. Really! And still. After a week resting up I got restless. The fever was gone, the pain disappeared and the weekend arrived. That beautiful weather outside was too much for me. Plus, there is always the fear that too much rest will lower your fitness level and you won’t be able to run enough to finish the marathon. So, I put on my running shoes and ran out the door. If I had followed the schedule, without getting sick, I should have ran 27 kilometer. So why not try that? No easing back into the plan for me. I don’t need to let my body adjust  to running again. Nope. 27 Kilometer. I can do this! The first 15k were great. I did feel it costed a bit more of energy than it should. And that I should have started slower. My left hip started to protest. But it was going so well. Amazing how I could do this after a week of illness. Ignore the hip and go on. And then I arrived at 22k. Only 5k to go. I was almost home!

And there it was, the horror of any runner: the runner’s trots. 

And then it happened. My stomach started to cramp in an alarming  way (is there any other?). My legs felt like jello. I started to look around to find a place, void of walkers and bikers to relieve my stomach content. The horror of any runner. I heard a beep on my phone. My husband whatsapped me: Are you okay? You are out a long time?” I stopped there and then. Along river Amstel, the most beautiful view you find in Amsterdam on such a beautiful day. I started to vomit. I tried to get my legs into running mode again. But I didn’t get any further than a pathetic shuffle. “Please, come and get me? I can’t go on anymore.” Blessure leed van een menopauzerende hardloper

 

Had it been too warm today? Did I hydrate enough? How was my diet this last week? Should I have reduced the mileage? Have taken a longer rest? I put my body in parking mode, right there along the river and waited on my better half. And did some hard thinking. Contemplating my sins, I concluded there was only one: not listening to my body.  I won’t be the first runner this happened to. And I won’t be the last either. It is always a delicate balance: when to run through some pain, when to rest up. I made the obvious mistake to run when my body needed rest.

My hip hurt for another week. So much so, I couldn’t run. At all. But still I feel lucky. I quit after 22k, and even though I think it would have been better if I hadn’t ran so long, I also believe that it would have been worse if I hadn’t had called in the cavalerie. One week of extra rest is all it took to recover completely. That could have been a lot worse. My body feels ready for my first training again. A very careful 5k will do it.  Wish me luck!

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