I spent some time reading the latest issue of Runner’s World after I finished my run on Saturday and really appreciated the advice about maximizing the taper period before the marathon. One of the points I most took to heart was balancing my desire to kick up my feet and coast until October 25 with quickly mounting fear that I won’t be up to the challenge when I reach the starting line. Every day now I struggle between thoughts like “I’m skipping the gym b/c I’m tapering” and “I have to run as far and as fast as I can to get in the most training possible!”
The fact is, I’ve done what I can do at this point in terms of distance. Logging hundreds of miles won’t negate the fact that I have to get up on the 25th and run 26.2 of those little buggers. However, I also know that stashing the sneakers in the closet and curling up with luscious, indulgent, unhealthy food won’t help either. Sadly, Snickers and Reese’s don’t include the kinds of carbs I need and eating them now certainly won’t do me any favors in 2 weeks.
To help navigate this delicate stage of training, RW offered the following (grossly paraphrased here) tips:
– Reduce cross training and strength training: Keep easy runs easy and focus on getting to the race in good shape.
– Focus on speed work, especially late in your workouts: “Greatly reducing the volume but keeping intensity high is the best tapering strategy for middle and long-distance runners. The decrease in volume allows the body to recover and adapt yet the short, intense workouts provide enough anaerobic training stimulus to prevent the body from detraining.”
– Get more sleep!
And a tip I’d like to add from my recent reading (and re-reading) of Thrive, is to max out on nutrition and take care of yourself! Brendan Brazier made a fascinating point that, at a cellular level, our bodies will be entirely new in 6-8 months and they’ll be made up of what we eat between now and then. Pretty incredible to think about, honestly! And while I don’t have 6-8 months, I do have several weeks and I’m confident that I can only help myself to passing on the processed foods and making the most of the wonderful fall dishes and produce. To the nutrition point, I’ve cut out all caffeine, added my all time favorite honeycrisp apples back into my diet and I’ll be posting a recipe for a suped up version of my mother’s chicken and dumplings very soon!
As far as the RW tips go, I’ve definitely started making some small changes. I’m going to sleep a little earlier every evening (except Wednesday when we had some lovely houseguests!) and I’m dialing down my cross training. On Monday, I went for a short 30-minute stair climbing session and dropped the workout level from 9 to 7. I skipped my workout all together on Tuesday and Thursday and just walked to and from work (4 miles). When Wednesday rolled around, I was jonesing for some speed work so I hit the treadmill for an interval workout. Aside from thinking I might lose my lunch in the last 2 minute sprint, I think this run was a complete and utter success. I alternated between 6.4 mph 1-minute recovery and 7.5-7.8 2-minute sprints. All told, I banged out those 5 miles in 42 minutes to the second!! I haven’t run that kind of pace since I PR’d at a half marathon in Pittsburgh in 2007 so it was fantastic to see those kinds of numbers on the machine again. The run also reminded me that I’ve got a reserve tank and shouldn’t forget to use it. I really wanted to quit during several speed intervals and started bargaining with myself. But I remembered Matt’s marathon recap and told myself “There’s got to be more” and, sure enough, there was! Even though I was tired, I knew I could get through the next minute or two. This is definitely something I will keep in mind during the marathon when I start to doubt myself and I’m so glad I worked hard enough on Wednesday to really test my limits mentally and physically.
And I am probably running my 15 miler as you read this. Check back later this weekend for the recipe and run recap!