It’s very real. And I am trying very, very, very hard not to let it affect me. In fact, Runner’s World couldn’t have been more timely when they published an article on Taper Madness and how to go into the taper and feel good as you go through it. Some runners, honestly, look forward to the taper. I am not one of those runners. Cutting back on mileage is not easy for me. I love my long distance runs. I do them with people and I do them alone. Either way, I enjoy them. But cutting down has proven to be a bit of a challenge for me.
Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of a difference in this first week of the taper. It was sort of like going into a cut-back week during normal training. Maybe these marathon training planners do know what they are doing. I promise…I am respecting my taper. I swore I would and I intend to do so.
So, as my miles get shorter…let’s take a look at how I’m dealing this week.
Sunday was a busy day for me. I was having my birthday get-together with some peeps. Many of my friends made it out. A couple ended up not being able to make it. My roomie and I had our friend Greg in town…so…that being said…I knew I needed to get up and moving that morning if I was going to get my long run in. Having run 24 miles the day before I had no plans for speed. In fact, I wore my heavier shoes to keep my pace slow and steady. I was aiming for 10 miles that morning, and I managed an easy (although at times it felt hard) 10 miles before heading back to the apartment and getting showered and making some gluten-free madeleines for breakfast. The rest of the day we were out and about before my favorite local food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory catered my birthday party at The Beer Store in Louisville, Kentucky. My roomie got me a gluten-free beer to try…blech…still not into beer. Just not my thing. I stuck mostly to the water and was served up one of the most amazing three course meals of my life. FROM A FOOD TRUCK!! Richard and Ashley do fantastic work, but they really did some amazing things. I was the only gluten-free person at the get-together, but everyone enjoyed the appetizer gluten-free savory crepes, the gluten-free ravioli for the entree, and the gluten-free crepe suzette with their homemade gelato for dessert. We were all very full at the end but everyone enjoyed the food. I think it was one of my favorite get-togethers yet. So many different personalities and people and yet…we all came together for good food and a good time. It was a good Sunday.
And Monday definitely came around way too soon. My training plan called for 6 easy miles, so I was up and at it early. The darkness no longer slows me down…but what does slow me down is super tight hamstrings. The morning air felt great, but my legs weren’t wanting to move as they normally would. I foam rolled after I hit my mileage, slower than normal, but I was okay with that. I was going the distance, not going for speed and I do not push when something is twinging. After work and a quick dinner, I was back out for my Monday Daily Double…with my running group. That night we were going to go a different route because a tree had gone down somewhere up the way and they were sculpting it into…something. Laura had heard about it and was going to lead us that way. She said that she was going to block me from running out ahead because I was in taper mode. It actually worked and I loved her for this! I have good friends in the running community. As it turns out, they had finished the sculpture and the tree now was a castle with a dragon wrapped around it. It was AWESOME. We completed the run after stopping to marvel at the tree art. Ellen and I stuck together, talked while we ran. She said I pushed her at the end, and we finished up a full 3 miles together. She said my easy pace was pushing it for her, but it felt great. And we hit wicked negative splits. Despite my tight hamstrings…we had a great run. After a shower, foam rolling commenced once more.
Tuesday was my cross-training day. So, no running. These no running days are the most difficult part of training. I just want to hop out of bed and put in some miles. But…I behaved. I hit up the gym and hopped on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, using Program 1 – Level 5 and managing 2.79 miles. Not bad. I love and hate that machine. But it’s great for cross training. After that, it was the rowing machine for 10 minutes. The rowing machine is tedious…and boring. But…it works so much of your body. I always feel it after the workout. After that, I went downstairs for some strength training before heading into the office. But my day didn’t stop there. After work, it was right into my circuit training. This new routine kicks my butt every time. Seriously. But that’s good. Honestly.
Wednesday morning I woke to the task of hitting 7 miles with Negative Splits in my marathon training. Pacing and speed work days are my least favorite of the week. But, they are necessary. So, I started off slow and steady and picked it up with each mile. I didn’t feel like I was actually doing the whole negative split thing, but when I hit 7 miles, I surprised myself. I actually had managed those negative splits. It felt good out there that morning. I didn’t push too hard, because my legs were still feeling my runs from earlier in the week, but the hamstrings were feeling loose again and much better. So, I kept it challenging…just didn’t push my luck. Quite happy with it.
Thursday morning was another 7 mile run…this time at an easy pace. I decided that I would take my Newtons out for a spin. It would be the longest distance that I had run in them since I purchased them, usually keeping them on for my fun run Mondays or some light jogging on Friday. But, I’m doing this whole shoe rotation thing and I figured…why not? I love these shoes. You either love or hate these shoes, but I love them. My 7 easy miles were done, once again, with negative splits and I shaved a full minute off my time from the day before. If I had gotten these shoes sooner, I would probably wear them in my marathon…but…that might have to wait for another time.
Friday is the dreaded day of rest…that I respect and keep holy. Kind of. I went out for a walk, because if I don’t, I sit at my desk all day on Friday working my ass off in front of the computer. So, this was necessary. I had on my walking shoes, so I kept a great pace, and did some light jogging on the straightaways. I ended up doing this walk/jog thing for 4 miles that morning, which didn’t take me too long. Still had plenty of time to make some coffee and get some breakfast ready before resting my legs for the remainder of the day. I had a lot going on at the office, but at the back of my mind I kept thinking about my long run…
Saturday…the long run day. Not as long a run for me this week. Like I said…tapering. BLECH. Anyway, my training plan called for a paced…yes…a paced 12 mile long run. What does this mean? As laid out by the plan, I was to run certain miles at certain paces. I wasn’t feeling too confident about it. And…I was going this one alone. Lots of things were now going on during the day Saturday, so meeting up with my peeps wasn’t going to happen. BUMMER. I was lacking motivation this morning. I hit the snooze button on my alarm, goofed around online, but finally decided the miles and paces weren’t going to run themselves. I made myself a deal…focus on the distance…I knew I could run the paces…so if I didn’t hit it…whatever. The distance is what matters. The training plan called for Miles 1-2 to be done at my Long Slow Distance pace; Miles 3-11 at Marathon Pace; Mile 12 at Long Slow Distance Pace. I nailed it. In fact, I once again ran most of the miles faster than necessary. I am working on that because I don’t want to be burned out when I am in my marathon. I want to feel strong and good at the end. Anyway…I was pleased with the way this run turned out. It wasn’t easy…but I pushed through and showed that I didn’t have to doubt myself. I am quite capable of these paced long runs. I just never feel like I’m strong enough or good enough. And that’s something i need to get over.
Next week the taper gets very real. I keep eying the training schedule and shaking my head. It will be so hard to work around the cutback on the miles, but I will do it…and I will continue to respect the lower mileage because I know what it is doing is getting my body ready for the big day. My muscles are healing, getting stronger, and getting prepared. And because of that…I will work through the miles as laid out by my plan. It’s not easy…but I’ll manage.
Taper Madness…I can get through this, right?