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What's Next?

by Karl Gruber
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So you did it – you successfully trained for weeks, even months, and you ran a half or full marathon. Now, what’s next? Sure you have a check mark next to “Run a Marathon” on your bucket list, and while you can still have the taste of success from coming across the finish line, you still sense that your appetite for challenge as a runner is still not satisfied. 

I can tell you that now that you’ve had a taste of success in the half or full marathon, your appetite for long distance running challenges may never be satisfied. Now is the time to look ahead and start training as you line up your next half or full marathon race. Are you in shape to run two marathons per year? Are you one of those runners who has the desire and the ability to run multiple half and full marathons in a year? Would you like to do a marathon(s) for your favorite charity or cause, or do you simply want to run to see if you really can do it? No matter what your reason, there is an opportunity for you to run again.

Everyone’s running abilities and desires are different. There are people like Chuck Engle, also known as “The Marathon Junkie,” who has won a marathon in all 50 states, run a sub three hour marathon in all 50 states (twice), and run 420 marathons to date. Then there are runners like my friend Max, who has completed a daily five to seven-mile run every day for over 40 years and never races. Both individuals prove that running is more than likely the one activity that you don’t need to make any financial investment in and can partake in literally anywhere, at any time. 

The one thing that does not change for any runner is that a race of any distance is always the mark that allows you see what you have to offer as a runner. A race allows you to delve deeper into your being both physically and mentally to discover what lies in the deeper strata of who and what you are.

With this in mind, what is next for you as a runner? You may have successfully checked a half or full marathon off your bucket list, but there always seems to be this unquenchable thirst for more running challenges. There are many, many resources for finding what races are out there just waiting for you. One of the best resources around for finding a marathon anywhere in the world is www.marathonguide.com. This website offers a year-round calendar of organized marathons both in North America and internationally. If you have the taste for going beyond the marathon distance, Ultra Running has a year-round race calendar, too. 

As you try to decide what is next for your race schedule and/or running goals, make sure to check in with yourself:
 
  • What kind of shape are you in? 
  • Are you race fit? 
  • Are you physically able to run just one half marathon or just one full marathon? 
  • Are you an experienced distance runner ready to take on your first 50k ultra marathon, and maybe even a 100 miler?
  • Do you come from an athletic background of running cross country and track in high school and college, or are you a runner who just shed 75 lbs., and completed your first half marathon?
Be realistic as to what you are capable of now as a runner, especially of what you think you want to accomplish distance-wise as a runner. I have encountered way too many people who are totally unrealistic in their immediate running and racing goals, only to end up getting injured and no longer having fun as a runner. Believe me, I am probably one of the most optimistic, positive people you could ever know, but when it comes to knowing what my body is capable of as a runner, my two feet are planted firmly on the ground. 

My suggestion for you is to dream big, but to plant the seeds of proper training in order to achieve those sky-high running and racing goals. As a runner who once successfully ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks, I know that your body can accomplish way more than you ever thought it capable of. I also am aware of the fact that once you push your body beyond its supposed limits as a runner, you need to give it its due rest and recuperation. Allow your body the much-needed down time to heal, rest and recuperate after a half, full or ultra-marathon. It will more than likely come back stronger and healthier than ever, and pay you back in spades with a new level of running performance you didn’t know it had.

So when it comes to the big question of “what’s next” with your running and racing, be smart, be patient, listen to your body and choose that next running goal wisely. Follow this advice, and I can guarantee you that many, many more start and finish lines await you. 

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