Friday, May 27, 2011

The Joys Of Not Training

Something usually happens in the weeks after crossing the marathon finish line, a sort of post-marathon blues. It leaves runners asking “what’s next?” and searching for ways to fill the hours they’d set aside for training.

Not for me. Not this time, at least.

After my first marathon in 2009, I felt that sense of emptiness, the nagging need to tackle the next big challenge. This time around, a little more than a month after completing the Boston Marathon, I don’t feel even a slightest twinge of that.

Instead, I continue to feel the sense of pure accomplishment combined with a bit of relief.

During the past few weeks, I’ve simply reconnected with my love of running. I’ve been running when I want, how far I want and at what pace I want. If I don’t want to run, I don’t.

I’ve been appreciating the scenery a little more, taking in the fresh air and trying new routes. In fact, I’ve taken this non-training time to try new things.

Last week, I made a point to finally check out the Goffstown Rail Trail for one of my runs. This was a great change of pace and scenery, winding just far enough off the road to bring some peace and quiet to my run. I can’t wait until the bridge project to connect the Goffstown and Manchester trails is complete. It will open up a whole new world of trail running options.

I also decided to incorporate strength and core work by starting my mornings with Pilates. I’ve discovered the options of the On Demand channel and am totally hooked.

Last week also brought me to my first group bike ride – or should I say, I brought the group bike ride to me. I hosted the ride as a way to bring together many of my active friends for a fun ride through the country.

The group, not all of whom knew each other, melded together perfectly. I saw new friendships forming and riding partners pairing up for future rides. I’m certain another group ride will be in the works soon.

Last but not least, I did my small part of participate in the Commute Green New Hampshire Challenge last week. As you may recall, the weather was certainly less-than-perfect for a challenge asking residents to bike bikes or walk to work. For an event that was supposed to be helping Mother Nature, she sure wasn’t helping us out. Perhaps those opting for the carpooling or telecommuting options were the smart ones?

Commute Green NH set a goal of logging 50,000 miles by asking residents to replace their normal commuting miles with an alternative method. The results are still being compiled, but at last check more than 62,000 miles were logged by New Hampshire residents during the week-long challenge.

I thought it would be an interesting and fun experiment, so I juggled a few things around and was able to fit in two day of “green commuting.” A self-described fair-weather rider, I avoid my bike for the rainy week of the challenge, but was able to arrange to carpool to work for twice. At the end of the day, I ran home.

It was a funny feeling leaving from work knowing that I’d be running home. Even though the eight-mile distance was something I’d done many times, it somehow seemed much farther as I faced this point-to-point route. Once I got started, however, it turned into just another run.

In all, I logged about 50 miles in “green commuting.” (As a side note, I discovered that Commute Green NH didn’t offer a “run” option when I logged my miles, so I had to choose the “walk” option. I gently suggested to the group via Facebook that they consider changing the category to “by foot.”)

Overall, it was a really interesting experiment. I learned that commuting “by foot” (or bike) was completely do-able, although a little challenging. The logistics of transporting clothes and lunches, along with keeping a constant eye on the weather, means it won’t be something I will do every day.

But it’s something I’ll try to incorporate at least once a week during the summer months. At the very least, I’ll save a few bucks on gas and get a few more miles on the legs and bike.

And it will be another way to enjoy my non-training days.

Teresa Robinson is Community Relations Manager for the New Hampshire Union Leader. Her column appears in the New Hampshire Sunday News every other week. Her email address is

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