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Your Next It

By Dan Van Veen

First off, congratulations to all those who participated in the Detroit Marathon events on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14 and 15. Awesome that you not only participated in one of the events, but you were doing it on the behalf of others — in not the best of weather, either! ☺ And a BIG SHOUT OUT to founder Lisa Harper . . . finishing 26 Detroit Marathons now – just an unreal accomplishment!!

Ok, the headline may have some people scratching their heads. But one of the things about doing a big event race, no matter what the distance is, once you complete that event . . . then what? What’s next? Whether you trained to do your fastest mile or put in the long hours and miles to do the marathon, there’s often an emotional, mental, and sometimes even a physical let down following any goal race.

When you complete a goal race, especially if this is your first one, there’s a tendency to want to rest and recover for a while. And actually, if it’s a distance event you just completed, a week’s rest from running is fine. But possibly one of the saddest things that too often happens to people who spent weeks and months training is they take that week off . . ., which turns into another week and then another and suddenly all that training ends up being lost instead of being an ongoing part of a healthy/active lifestyle.

So, whether you participated in one of the Detroit Marathon events or have another event you have trained (or are training) for, have an “Next it” as opposed to an “Exit” plan. For me, I remember struggling after my first marathon because, frankly, it was not a good experience . . . and all my focus had been on that one HUGE, personal accomplishment. I didn’t have any thoughts about what I was going to do next and I suddenly found I hadn’t run for two months!

I got back into the routine because our family has a history of heart health issues and I realized I needed to maintain my health, but it was hard. I also had gained 10 pounds because, well, even though there is an ongoing argument whether or not running helps a person lose weight, NOT running and continuing to eat like I was running seemed to be a pretty clear connection to my added pounds. : )

My advice is, after a few days of recovery, start training again – not for a race, but just easily . . . go out and run for fun. Instead of pushing yourself on distance or pace, call these runs “recovery runs.” No watch needed. The runs can be much shorter and slower and when you’re finished you shouldn’t feel like you pushed at all . . . you should feel like you could do more (stop and just walk and enjoy the day if you feel stressed at all). Why? Because then you’re maintaining a discipline of running/exercise while also giving yourself subconscious positive reinforcement (this is easy, I could run farther, I don’t even feel tired, etc.). Basically, it makes it much easier to put on the gear and head out the door each day.

When you have an exercise routine, as long as you maintain that routine, it’s not hard to keep and it’s even enjoyable/anticipated; but break that routine for a couple of months, even a routine you have been doing for years, and getting started again is a pretty big challenge.

So, I challenge you to continue your running beyond your “big” event, but plan for it. Your “Next It” doesn’t have to be another big race, it could be just setting a goal of running three times a week for the next month after accomplishing a goal race – again, keeping in mind, it doesn’t have to be anything super challenging, but something you can accomplish while also maintaining discipline and conditioning. Don’t let all those miles, all that time, all that conditioning be lost and, in a sense, wasted just on one event. Stop and make a plan for the “Next it” right now! ☺

Have an awesome run today!


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