After the marathon, I decided that I need a "break" or an "off season" from running. I had been in Marathon training mode since June of 2008 without any down time, except for when I was sick in September. And even then, I pushed it more than I should have. I also realized that perhaps the 18-week training cycle isn't benefiting me much. I ran my 3:51 back in March of 2008 on only seven weeks of training because I had been injured prior to that. My game plan was to take it easy during May and June, and then at the end of June start a 12-week program to train for The Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 27.
I am registered for both the Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon (December 5). These marathons are 10 weeks apart. The goal is for one of them to qualify for Boston with a 3:40. I'm going to train for Toronto Waterfront as if I want it to be my BQ, but if the weather is forecast to be too warm, or if I am not feeling ready, then I will drop down to the half and focus on Memphis. I consulted with a coach and she was actually the one who suggested this approach. She told me that if I really wanted the BQ, then I would have to NOT finish the full Toronto marathon if things weren't going well for me. Because then I would have too much recovery time that would intrude into the training for Memphis. I really like this approach because I won't be freaking out about the weather as much. If it's going to be too hot, then I'll just run the half. And I will have only done a 12-week program, so it's not like I have invested quite as much as I have in the past.
May and June have been very easy months of running. I took a week off entirely after the marathon and then started back at 25 miles per week of slow runs. Since then, I have been running anywhere from 25 to 40 MPW, which is a huge reduction from the 55-60 that I had been doing. Most of the runs have been slow because I am trying to use the approach of staying in my the optimal endurance zone.
My only speedwork has been races. Because it's been abnormally hot and humid for May and June, my times at these races have all fallen way short of what I know I could do in better conditions. I ran my slowest 5K ever (24:30) in 75 degree sunny weather with plenty of hills. I also ran a slow 8K and a slow 10K. I put out as much effort as I could given the heat and humidity, but my legs didn't feel a thing because my fatigue was the limiting factor. I plan on running a 4-miler at the end of June, but as of now, the heat index is supposed to be 100 degrees or more, so I might just decided not to run that one.
I've also taken a mental "break" from running. I haven't been spending as much time on running websites and discussion forums. I have a new boyfriend who I have been spending a lot of time with. Although I never felt "burnt out" from running, I just think that I needed to take some down time so that my next training cycle would feel fresh.