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Martini Fridays: Muscular Thighs and Post-Race Plans

 My dog is tired of hearing me talk about what might come next after the big run.

My dog is tired of hearing me talk about what might come next after the big run.

Wee! Race day for Adrienne Martini at the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon is just one week away, and her dog couldn't be more thrilled for her. (Catch up on her journey with past episodes of  Martini Fridays.)

Perhaps the most dangerous part of this whole taper thing is that I have enough energy and headspace to start fomenting future running plans. If nothing else, all of this day-dreaming keeps my mind off of accidentally turning an ankle while walking to class or picking up a stomach bug from one of my children.

This musing about life after the Pittsburgh Half Marathon isn’t good, though. I’m thoroughly in the don’t-count-your-chickens-before-they-hatch camp and, right now, all I’m holding is a basket full of easily smashed eggs. Potentially, my first actual running chicken is about to peck free but there are no guarantees in the hen house.

Still. Here I am.

Potential Chicken #1: I’ve actually said the following out loud: Wouldn’t it be fun to run a half-marathon in every city I’ve lived in? To his credit, my husband didn’t even flinch. Possibly, this is because he was half-asleep and I might have whispered it so that I didn’t wake him all the way up.

It’s a fun list, full of races I’ve heard nothing but good about. Pittsburgh can soon be scratched off -- and typing this means that I’m courting a DNF -- and I’d be left with Orlando, Austin, and Knoxville, Tennessee. There are plenty of halfs to choose from in cities close to Oneonta, like Albany, Utica, or Binghamton. If I wanted to be kicky, I could add the cities we lived in before I started kindergarten: Wilmington, Atlanta, and Chicago. Totally do-able.

But then what? Should I add all of the cities where I know someone? All of the Zoomas? All of the Ragnars? Places I’ve always wanted to see? One in each state? One in each country? Then I could write a book about all of the running, full of both cautionary tales and uplifting finishes. It’ll be huge, like Eat, Pray, Love huge. I’ll call it Eat, Kvetch, Run. Eat, Pack, Run? Run, Run, Run?

And now you can also see why I tend to avoid down-time. It gives me all sorts of unsustainable ideas. But I will admit that I am casting about for another half, maybe in the fall. Or maybe the Disney Princess. Unless it turns out that I really hate running halfs and then that future-me can come back and laugh at past-me.

My post-Pittsburgh plan might involve this sign, which I’ve never once managed to register my speed during a morning run.
My post-Pittsburgh plan might involve this sign, which I’ve never once managed to register my speed during a morning run.

Potential Chicken #2: My most immediate post-Pittsburgh running goal is to finally get serious about a PR in our local big 10K: The Pit Run. My current PR is 1:16, which is certainly faster than sitting on the couch. Still, I think with some training I can get closer to the 1:10 or 1:05. I’ve already marked my calendar so that I remember to start the Train Like a Mother 10K Own It! plan at the end of July.

I take an almost perverse pride in my slow-but-determined running style that it will be weird to think about speed. It’s good to be weird every now and again, yes?

...which makes me grumpy.

Potential Chicken #3: A couple of days ago, that same husband was trying to get my attention and put his hand on my thigh, just above my knee. What really got my attention was what he said next, with a note of surprise in his voice: “Wow. It’s like a rock.” Reader, I loved him more.

Like so many women—most of us, I’d wager—my body and I have always had an uneasy relationship. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve reached a point of mostly happy acceptance. It’s not coincidental that this is right about the same time I started running, too.

But I never expected or, frankly, aimed for, changes in my body composition. I wasn’t obsessed with losing X pounds or lowering my BMI or fitting in a size 6. Because I have other stuff in my life that gives me more joy than any of that would; that’s why.

My post-baby belly is always going to jiggle. My upper arms are always going to sway. I can run, though. And when you run in this body, apparently, you get rock hard thighs that are growing increasingly challenging to fit into pants.

Which started to freak me out. After so many years of monitoring myself for any changes in what my body looks like, any one part getting bigger is bound to incite panic. It took me longer than I care to admit to accept that my muscle-y thighs are the reward for my work. They are a sign of strength rather than weakness.

So how is this a chicken? I don’t want to lose them and need to come up with a plan to maintain my newly found fitness even if I’m not in the heart of training for something. I have zero idea if it would be better to always be training for something or to develop some kind of maintenance plan. I’ve mentioned I’m a planner, yes?

If nothing else, this whole training for the Pittsburgh Half and writing about has taught me that there is no problem I’ve faced that another mother runner hasn’t faced as well. So what solutions to keeping your fitness gains have you come up with?

(And, no, the answer “start training for a marathon” isn’t on the table. Never say never, I know,  but at this point, running a marathon holds zero appeal for me, no matter how much I enjoyed this week’s Boston Marathon.)



28 responses to “Martini Fridays: Muscular Thighs and Post-Race Plans

  1. Your “Like a Rock” comment made me laugh out loud…only because I usually grab my husbands hand, make him grab my thigh while I yell out…”it’s like rock solid, right?” 🙂

  2. Catching up as I spent Friday walking around Roanoke, picking up a friend at the airport and eating pasta. LOL! I’ll come pace you at the Pit Run if you want. Son is going back to SUCO to get his degree (he left a course shy of his music industry one and three shy of a philosophy one). I will be up that way.

  3. sign up for a triathlon. That will give you something new to aim for. I, personally, am not good at triathlons but I have done two and glad to have done it. I like to run. 27 half marathons and 1 full marathon and working toward my next full in July.

  4. I’m TOTALLY looking for you at the Pgh half next week, even though the odds are like one in a gazillion that I’d see you.

    I can run a 10K in 1:05. Come back to the ‘burgh and I’ll do it with you. 🙂

  5. After my first half, I just kept running. I had got to the point that I loved it so much that I didn’t need a goal, I just went out and ran. I also decided to work on other goals. I started a kettlebell program to work on strength. I cut back my running a little while I went full tilt on the kettlebell. I did gain strength, and now I keep up the kettlebell and I’ve been increasing my running and thinking of training for another half.

  6. I am not necessarily a planner, but I am very goal oriented. After my first couple of halfs, I decided to set a mileage goal and last year I set out to run 600 miles. It brought me great joy to write down the mileage from each and every run in a little book I kept in my purse.

  7. Down time is dangerous for me too! I have one of the same chickens that you do: my 10K PR is 1:16:27. I really think I can beat it but it will take work. Another chicken I’m chasing (more) is the full. I’m aiming for 3/2015 so not training yet but I’m committed. I can’t wait to hear your race recap. I hope I can continue to “follow” you after your race. It’s been wonderful following someone I can relate to. Experience and speed wise we are closely matched. I just ran my first half two months ago.

  8. Enjoy your last week of taper! You’ve put in the work and you’ve got this. You’ll come up with the next best “Potential Chicken.” If you decide to hit all the cities you’ve lived in, you have a mother runner friend in Wilmington!

  9. I am a planner too, and I found that taking a week off after running a half felt like a real treat, then copy another plan from the TLAM book. I chose the 10K finish it plan. It seemed so easy after the half marathon plan! But, I definitely need a schedule to tell me what to do on each day, or I start to skip exercising for things like hanging laundry, sleeping in… Once I chose my next race (a Zooma 10K with my college roomie!), I had a date to start the 10K plan.

    Go get ’em. I love PGH too, but those hills!!!!

  10. I am NOT a planner – but I struggled A LOT with what happens after the half. I haven’t run another half (I did Pittsburgh last year) but I have to always be following a plan like I’m going to race in something – even if the scheduling/finances/training doesn’t fall into place. (Case in point: I started training for a half in March but when my grandfather got sick and then passed away I kicked my plan to the curb and started fresh…training for a 5K). I have found that if I don’t have a goal I don’t stick to running the way I should (even though I love it and I love the benefits).

    And I’m about to sign up for the Hershey Half (PA) when registration opens in a few days. There had BETTER BE chocolate at the end of that race!! Just sayin’.

  11. And this post pretty much sums up how you get hooked on running and keep upping the challenge for yourself. It doesn’t have to be the marathon distance; instead it can be choosing different distances or trails. I keep my fitness up with running. Even when I am not training for anything, I still get out 3 times per week running whatever distance I have time for. Enjoy the butterflies that will come this week 🙂

  12. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey to the Pittsburgh Half. I can not believe it is next weekend already! I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you. I have my sites tentatively set on a 10-miler on the 4th of July assuming the Pittsburgh Half doesn’t kill me 😉

  13. This made me laugh along with you: “Unless it turns out that I really hate running halfs and then that future-me can come back and laugh at past-me.” The thing is, there will almost certainly be a point during the race that you question why you ever thought you wanted to run a half, and you vow never to run one again. Then you’ll finish the race, bask in the glow of the accomplishment, recover a bit, and sign up for that next half within a day or two. At least if you’re anything like me. 🙂 I’ve had a few races that have been pure joy, but so many races I’ve pushed hard and questioned my sanity. That’s part of the challenge!

  14. Every time I read your writings, I feel like I ‘m listening to a friend. I sometimes feel all alone in a sea of runners, so it’s nice to read about like-minded people. You’ve got this, and you won’t want to stop. Good luck!

  15. About to do my first half in Cincinnati next week. I am also in the “what’s next” phase. I know I will keep running with my group but how much is the question. I have plans for another half in November, but am still waiting to see how the first one goes. I’m not gonna lie, the last couple of weeks I have been really tired (my body, that is). I will continue to work with my personal trainer, though. I like what has happened with my body since she and I started together last July (and then I added running, I’m nuts!). Good luck next week and looking forward to your update.

  16. I must say that I have thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this series. I, too, have been training for my first 1/2 and I’ve looked forward to every Friday so I could read your notes and commiserate. My race is tomorrow– as in, this time tomorrow I’ll be pounding the pavement! Eeek!

  17. I think you will find that after the Pittsburgh 1\2, you will drink the kool-aid of all fellow 1/2 runners and be able to move forward with your plans to run more of that distance. And I try to keep my fitness gains by always having another race goal on the schedule,. Keeps me honest.

    As for your rocking thighs, I used to have a hunky trainer who stopped me when I commented on my tree trunk calves. He said (in his Haitian accent), “strong calves, they carry you with strength and power and I never want to hear you speak negatively of them again.” Babe, love and glory in your powerful thighs. (Said in my best fake Haitian accent)

  18. I finished my first half and a friend asked me to run a Spartan race with her. I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it. Turns out it was one of the best experiences of my life! Step out of your comfort zone and keep trying new things.

  19. My plans for keeping fit………keep trying new stuff. A new class at the gym, a trail run, or swimming or biking. And yes, put the next race on the calendar. It can be any length but something to keep those sneakers going. I also have a goal to run a minimum of 15 miles per week. It’s been do-able for nearly a year now. Even with the weeks we vacation or I am sick or on the injured list my average miles per week still stay the same.

    And when people ask what you’re training for, say “I’m training for life”.

  20. I always have another race and/or goal in mind, even if it’s a shorter distance.
    My goal after the Pittsburgh Half is to set a PR at a local 10K also, about a month later.
    After that I have a couple of things floating in my mind, including the Falmouth Road Race for August (7 miles), which may be my favorite race ever.

  21. I finished my first half at the beginning of the month…and I’m thinking ‘what do I do now?!’ Thanks for asking-can’t wait to read the responses. I am toying with a marathon idea but my husband might freak out!

  22. I keep to a race schedule. I’ve done the 10K Own It plan more than once as “maintenance”, it’s easy to up to the ½ marathon plan from there when necessary (usually 2x per year.) I’ll be cheering for you from MI next weekend. Take pics if you get the chance!

  23. I too am a planner! After I completed my first two half marathons that were a part of a series. I began a challenge of doing a half in all 50 states within 5 Years. I’ve done six States thus far. I’m like you, dreaming of the days beyond my 50 States 5 Years challenge. I’m contemplating training for a Triathlon (I don’t know how to tread water).I read that every woman should do a half marathon at least once in her life. Now that I’ve done eight! I’m making my own list of things I should do at least once in my life! I say Go For It Martini Friday!

  24. I, like you, am a planner and I must always have a goal to attain so I keep a race on my schedule every few months. Otherwise, I might slack off on distance.

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