Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Taper Madness - Last Week of Taper for NVM

NVM is a mere 8 days away. So far, in these three weeks of my marathon taper, I've been pretty calm. Probably more so because I've been preoccupied with nursing my nagging injury. A little disappointed too--I've never seen so many blank spaces between my non-running days and running days in my log. I started my training the week before Thanksgiving and my lackluster efforts proved to be so, with a scant 377 miles logged to date. Clearly, not one of my best training efforts, but I need to stop comparing it to the high water mark of NY. I was not injured then and was much more careful.  

Training for Napa this go around, I was over-exuberant and took huge risks. I wanted to push my body to the limit. That's how we progress right? Getting out of your comfort zone?  If 20 miles was good, then 22 must be better. If two 20 milers were good, then 3-4 20 milers is even better. Or if 8:30 pace is good, then 8:20 must be better. If one day of hill work is good, how about 2 days a week?  That's got to be better.  Right? Wrong, wrong, wrong.   I got risky and well, now I am paying the piper. That's my fault. This is a very hard lesson to learn, and guess what? It will stick.

In the final week of the taper, I am not so calm anymore. That familiar nervous feeling of excitement is coming back. To counter whatever feelings I may have (entertaining the thought of one last attempt at a speed workout--No bad Aileen!),  I've been reading a lot about the importance of  recovery in the last weeks of the taper.   The body is supposed to be resting and healing. It takes on a whole new meaning to me considering my piriformis issues. At this point if I add one more speed workout or one more long run, I have nothing to gain and everything to lose.  All the fitness I needed is in the bank three weeks ago and I can only hope that my running base will carry me through.

Here's what my last week of taper looks like: 
Sunday: 8 miles easy (zone 1-2 HR)
Monday: REST
Tuesday: 4 mi w/ strides
Wednesday: 3 mi w/strides
Thursday: 2 mi
Friday: REST
Saturday: 2 mi easy (zone 1-2 HR)
Sunday: RACE DAY!

One would think that by now, I should know the drill. I mean this is my 19th taper. But no matter, how many times I've done a marathon, the taper gets me each time. It's not as simple as one would think. The general rule of thumb is reducing the weekly mileage by a certain percentage. Experts say don't do anything new. Not so easily done since, now that running isn't my focus, I can easily engage in other forms of exercise, whence before I didn't have the time. Now that I have time, "hello weight room", or "hello yoga/pilates".  But no, I won't fall prey to this temptation.  I will heed the expert advice and stay out of the new routines.  Don't get me wrong, it's probably okay if you were already incorporating it before as cross-training with your weekly runs. But to start now during the taper, is asking for trouble.  So I am going to stick to my light schedule above and stay away from anything that might tempt me to do otherwise.

The second round of acupuncture turned out great.  The nagging lower back pain-piriformis-sciatica-sacroiliac joint-psoas-problems (who knows what problems I have? The pain are all in the same region so they have got to be inter-connected somehow) has dissipated.   The pinching pain I felt before while bending over to tie my shoes, sitting down on the thrown, or getting out of the car have gone away. All good signs. The true test will be tomorrow on my last long 8 mile run. If the pain comes back, well...I'll cross that bridge when I get there...

Happy running. 

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