Matt Buck: founder of Running Adventures, running coach and guide, and off-road enthusiast!
The Virgin Money London Marathon is done and dusted; you've been thinking about nothing else since at least January and hopefully all your preparation paid off and the day went how you'd imagined it would go while trudging through the rain in the dark throughout winter.
You will be feeling a range of emotions....elation, pride, relief, euphoria and achievement...but now what!? Is that it? For some people, they will be happy with their medal and will hang up their running shoes, satisfied in the knowledge that they've ticked the 'run a marathon' bucket list box. For many others, this will be the start of something special, perhaps a new found love that you can't bear to be without.
With this in mind, I thought I'd offer you some ideas on where to take your running next...
ENTER ANOTHER MARATHON
Hadn't thought of that had you!? In all seriousness though, if you loved the marathon so much then why not simply do it again? There are some amazing marathons to enter all around the world, from small local affairs that cost £10 and you get a piece of cake at the end, to full on running extravaganzas (just like London) that will blow your tired little mind with excitement. Here are a couple of cool Autumn marathons with places still going that might tickle your fancy:
Amsterdam Marathon - They say it's "one of Europe's most popular running events", although places are still available!
Loch Ness Marathon - Beautiful area, cheap entry, and monster sightings guaranteed (not guaranteed, he's gone AWOL!), sounds like a winner to me!
Obviously you now have at least one marathon under your belt now, so you have a PB to chase - if you want some help with this then I can recommend an excellent coach who offers both online and face to face coaching. Learn more here.
Run an ultra
Hang on, running the marathon was tough enough, and quite far enough, thank you. I'm not going any further! Plus marathon training took up too much time as it is!
Well, let me break some good news to you: you can easily run a 50k entry level ultra marathon off the back of marathon training. You will probably even find it easier than the marathon! Why? Many ultras are actually much less stressful affairs than the circus of the London Marathon: you'll be in the countryside, surrounded by nature and you'll have no pressure of getting a PB. You can even WALK if you need to; in fact, walking is ENCOURAGED! I once stopped for an ice cream on the beach when running an ultra, and I ended up winning!
There are loads of cool events to have a crack at, many of which you can find via my friends over at RunUltra. Take a look, and see if anything catches your eye.
Nervous of entering an ultra? Well, why not join one of my guided trail runs? I offer a 30 mile entry level run, where we take our time, enjoy a day out and have a good laugh in the process. If you do decide to move on to ultras, then I can recommend a good coach again!
try trail running
Running roads is hard on your legs, full of things that could run you over and can generally, in my opinion, get a bit tedious. You've got fitness in your legs from months of hard work, so why not take advantage of this new found fitness and try hitting some trails?
The UK has an incredible network of trails and amazing countryside to explore. You will not regret heading into the wild and running some stunning routes. Forget about times and mile splits - simply enjoy being around nature, enjoy the woods, run along the beach, run up the biggest hill you can find and take in the view. Running trails is hugely rewarding and will give you a new lease of life. If you enjoy it, then look at entering a trail marathon (there are plenty of those too!). Also, running trails will get you fitter, faster and stronger, so if you do return to the roads, you'll smash that PB out the water.
If you are nervous about hitting trails on your own, or want to join a group, then it just so happens that I offer guided trail runs of varying distances, from 4 miles upwards, so come along and see what all the fuss is about. If you fancy having your own adventure but don't know where to start with the planning, then I can help with that too! Just get in touch to discuss!
have a rest
Training for, and running, that marathon was bloody knackering, right? You want a rest, right? That's cool, too - enjoy your achievement and enjoy the rest, you've earned it and you deserve it. I would say though, don't stop completely if you have intentions of continuing to run races further down the line, you don't want to be starting from scratch again do you?! Go for a few easy runs over the coming weeks, keep those legs moving and then when you feel ready, dig this blog out again and see if any of the previous suggestions seem more enticing.