So you’re new to running and you just finished up a big goal–say running your first 5k or 10k. You loved the experience, but you’re not sure where to go from here. Another race? A longer race? More training?
I’m going to suggest this: Take a week or two to rest up and recover before signing up for your next event. Enjoy the moment and reward yourself with an easier week of running, maybe with some cross training thrown in. Once the week is up, then start evaluating what you want to do next.
Many people these days are in a rush to get to the marathon distance. There’s a lot of marathon mania going around, and that’s all good and well, but my stance is that there’s value in developing you running skills first. As Joan Benoit Samuelson and I discussed on our run this past weekend, you don’t have to run a marathon in order to consider yourself a runner.
A few options I’d suggest to help you become a better runner first, and maybe a half or full marathoner later:
- Consider picking another race of the same distance you just completed, but make it your goal to get faster via smart training
- If you want to do a race of a bit longer, that’s fine too, but look for a training plan or consider a coach to help you get there safely and effectively
- Put your next race on your calendar, but give it a good six weeks or longer to have time to make improvements
- Work on increasing your longer run first, and speed work second. This will give you a solid foundation on which to build your speed.
Think of training as building a pyramid–you want a nice, wide base (aerobic foundation) to support your body as you begin to add layers of speed work on top. Take the time to develop a good running base, and you’ll become more efficient, and ultimately, faster runner. Then you’ll be locked and loaded for when you want to start stepping up to longer distances.
In the end, your long-term goal should be healthy running for a lifetime. Don’t skip the important steps on the front end just to reach a bucket list goal. Be patient and your body, and even your race times, will reward you for it.