DAY | PLAN | ACTUAL
MON | REST | REST
TUE | 5M/STRENGTH | REST!!!
WED | 8M | 8.10M (10:38/MI)
THU | 4M/STRENGTH | 4.2M INT (9:24/MI)/STRENGTH
FRI | REST | REST
SAT |YOGA | BIKRAM90
SUN | 12M | 12M (10:18/MI)
TOTAL |29 MILES | 24.3 MILES
My three week taper before the NYC marathon officially began last week and it started with a BANG: For the first time in four months of training, I missed a workout!! Although my twenty miler last Sunday went really well, my body was very much feeling the forty miles I put on it that week. I was sore and even felt a bit feverish at work all day on Monday; I felt in my gut that one day of recovery was just not going to cut it. So that night I made the call and in doing so garnered a big high-five from my husband. He knew from experience what my body and mind were going through and he really wasn’t into my “don’t miss one workout” plan. He just felt like I was putting pressure on myself that wasn’t necessarily serving me, and was glad to see me listening to my body and taking care.
I will say last week was the most uncomfortable I have felt physically. My knees were creaky, my feet were tender, and my back was stiff. My quads would not stop begging for the foam roller. Because historically I have a tendency to self-sabotage and it has not totally died, I withheld my body’s request for two whole days. Foam rolling has been a major part of my training and a major necessity in my return to running after being injured two years ago. When I’m doing it consistently, I tend to not mind keeping at it, and the benefits are enormous. Once I start skipping it–it gets harder and harder to get back to, and my muscles suffer in the constricted fascia surrounding them.
Honestly, I think the beginning of this week was just me being a bit of a baby. I’d done all this work and then felt a bit annoyed about how much more I needed to do to repair my body and help it recuperate and prepare for it’s final challenge. Luckily by midweek I got over myself and my eyes were back on the prize. A massage on Thursday night was not quite as transformative as I wanted it to be, or as the week before. But I knew this could largely be due to the cumulative effect of training. My massage therapist and I came up with a plan for two more sessions before the race, and I left her in a fairly even headspace. Once I had a yoga class under my belt Saturday morning, I started to feel more like myself and definitely less pessimistic about the 12 miles I had planned for Sunday.
I’m not gonna lie, it took till about mile 9 for me to stop feeling like the Tin Man on Sunday. Usually by mile 4 or 5 I’ve got enough synovial fluid to lubricate my joints and I can start to maintain a more free flowing stride. Not so on Sunday, but I’m glad to say I did hit a smooth groove eventually. I was happy with my pace on this run as well considering I made a very conscious effort to take it easy and slow it down. I never felt winded on this run and didn’t feel like I was pushing myself at all until the last mile. This was a confidence booster. It told me that my fitness was definitely there.
Now that week 2 of tapering has began I am reducing everything by about another third. This applies not only to my running, but to my strength training as well. I read in a lot of running publications to stop strength training altogether during the taper. This didn’t feel right to me though. I’m also overly skeptical of most running publications when it comes to other activities besides running. Sometimes I feel like the editors add in “sure, you should strength train and stretch and do yoga and stuff to compliment your running,” but the advice is a bit half-hearted. I’ve seen many of these articles end with something like, “but if you don’t have experience with strength training or yoga, don’t start them while you are training.” I understand that advice, but I also think it often comes from running junkies who ultimately put the miles before everything.
For me, I know that my body wasn’t really made for long distance running. Don’t get me wrong, it’s strong as hell. But the shape and way that I carry my weight are just not ideal for pounding the pavement for miles and miles. In order to bypass my genetics and have some success in the sport I love, I’ve learned that my body requires me to stretch and strengthen it in very deliberate and focused ways. I know that these practices do not make me invincible, but I do find them to be my best shield against injury and my biggest ally in improving my overall fitness. So, for that reason, rather than eliminate my strength training right away, I have decided to taper it down just like my running. While I normally do three sets of everything in my circuit, last week I did two. This week I will be doing just one set, and next week, I will lay off the weights completely as I prepare for the final countdown.
It’s funny, throughout this entire process, so many of you have emphasized the mental part of all of this to me. I think the beginning of this past week I was trying to check out. I was hoping taper meant my body could just go through the motions and my mind could take a vacation. I know now after just a couple taxing days that that is not going to work. Right now I am just looking to find a balance that is somehow both relaxed and focused. At times, rest seems to be even more of a challenge for my mind than exertion. So much to learn at each part of this process.
Who else out there is tapering? How is it going? What are the ups, the downs, the things driving you sideways? Anyone else super sore from your last heavy week? What about my pros out there who have already done this–any more taper advice I’ve got to know?
header image: vladislav muslakov