Tapering and Second Guessing

As expected, taper has come and the mind has begun racing while my legs have been loving the time relaxing.  We had a planned two week taper, but when I toe the starting line in Chicago, it’ll have been a four week taper instead.  Is it ideal?  Definitely not.  Is it warranted?  I think so.  It is what it is.

I briefly touched on what’s been going on last post.  The long story short is I ran a heck of a 20 miler in the rain and felt amazing.  The top of my right foot began to ache immediately after, but I attributed that to the 40,000+ steps I took in the duration of that run.  It felt more like a tendon/ligament issue as opposed to a stress fracture so  I continued my runs as planned the following week, with exception to my track workout (trashed legs = easier fartlek swapped in).  My weekend long run was cut almost 6 miles short because the soreness became pain and altered my gait.  Since that 12 miler over two weeks ago, I’ve had 8 total rest days (not consecutively) and every run has been anywhere from 2-6 miles easy.  It is what it is.

I intended to have one last 13-14 miles easy about 10 days out, but as luck would have it, I came down with a cold that put me on my ass.  It wasn’t the sniffling or sore throat that affected me, but the intense exhaustion I felt.  I was too tired to cook, clean, walk the dog more than a block, and yet I was sleeping 10 hours every night.  The cold started to go away, leaving mostly just a cough, so I hopped on the treadmill to aim for 2 hours of running.  I stopped after an hour because I stifled a cough for so long it made me gag so hard I was running straight to the bathroom.  Oops.  It is what it is.

Looking back, I’m so happy with my training.  When you’ve never run a certain distance, you create (rather in this case, Laura mostly creates) a training plan with the knowledge you currently have and adjust it if needed.  We made a training plan based on my current running, my strengths and weaknesses, and my history with overuse injuries.  I executed it the best I could, adjusting a few workouts as needed during vacation up until this extended taper.

Could we have known ahead of time how long it would take me to recover from long, slow distance runs versus interval and tempo runs?  Nope.  Did we adjust accordingly?  Definitely.  Did I get to the weekly mileage I had planned for a peak week?  Nope.  Did I hit the longest run of my plan strong?  Yes!  Are there a handful of workouts I nailed for me to think of while I’m struggling during Sunday’s race?  Yes, yes, yes!

Was it a perfect training cycle?  It depends.  For your first marathon, I like to think the “perfect” training cycle is getting to the start line healthy and finishing healthy.  So far, I’m placing a “check” next to the healthy start line because we recognized a potential injury and remedied it.  I’m anticipating a “check” next to finishing healthy as well, therefore, I like to think this is going to be a “perfect” training cycle if you’re looking at it that way — after all, it is my first marathon!

Of course, when taper starts and in this case, an extended taper, the mind starts to wander.  I’d be lying if I didn’t do hours of research on how the lack of running the past couple weeks affects my race.  Thankfully with an overall goal to finish, adjusting to a slower pace isn’t going to make or break my race, no matter how much I really wanted to run a sub 4 hour marathon.  Will I finish?  Definitely.  I’ll crawl across that line if needed, but I don’t anticipate that being the outcome!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, training for your first marathon is an entirely different beast than your first anything else I’ve trained for (so far).  Between the commitment, the every weekend distance rewards, seeing your highest weekly mileage ever, plus the struggles and triumphs experienced on a daily basis — there’s nothing like it.  I’m so looking forward to crossing the finish with Laura on my side and feeling every single mile culminating to that final moment.  Is this really happening?  Yes, it finally is.

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Brittany

Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

10 thoughts on “Tapering and Second Guessing”

  1. The way I look at this training cycle is you worked with what you had, which is important. No cycle will ever be perfect whether it is your 1st or 50th, something I can attest to after 12. The ups and downs are part of the process- but you WILL succeed this weekend and finish the race, and I cannot wait to be there for it. Like you said, use those great runs and workouts you had as motivation and forget about the shoulda-coulda-woulda’s! EEEEP it’s almost here!

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    1. Definitely! There’s nothing I can from here but look forward to Sunday and focus on the best part — running! I’m glad it’s a well populated big marathon for the first!

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  2. It sounds like you did what you needed. I don’t know if there will ever be a “perfect” training cycle for anything but you made the best of the situation and I could not be more proud of you.

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  3. Sometimes, a little extra taper time is a good thing. A few years back I had a stress fx in my tibia and could not run for 5 weeks in the height of marathon training. I cross trained as best I could, and was cleared to run in time for the taper. I towed the line of the marathon anyway and somehow, ran a 7 min PR that day. I mean, I spent YEARS chasing the time I ran that day only to find that I got it after extra rest. You did the work, have a positive outlook and now you are ready to race! Enjoy your taper, you EARNED IT!

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  4. It sounds like you had an overall very solid training cycle, and just as importantly, a strong mental outlook on it. I’ve been playing the same mind games during taper of wondering if I should have done more/faster/different. Hope you have a great race!

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