I felt worse this past week than in all of training so far. Those weeks of feeling like Superwoman are only a distant memory now. This was a much lighter week in mileage and workouts, but in some ways it was the hardest. Every run was a chore, and this was the first week except for one day on vacation that I shortened my runs. I feel very tired, sluggish, and achy. I haven’t had any aches or pains all through training, but now my right ankle is a little achy, as is my right hip flexor when I put my foot on the brake in the car. Coach Melissa explained to me that this is what happens during taper. She said I’m at the point in training where I’ll feel every ache and pain and feel very tired, but mostly it’s my mind playing tricks on me. She said we expect to feel fabulous when ramping down, but the body is healing itself and getting ready for race day, so it’s common to feel lethargic.
To add insult to phantom-injury, I’ve gained weight. I went through all of training without any thought as to my weight. I was eating to fuel my training and could care less about my weight. I never weighed myself, but I could tell from the way my clothes fit that I was maintaining the same weight. I mentioned a few weeks back that I had little appetite. It seems like a cruel joke that my appetite is back up at the same time my mileage is going down. This increase in my appetite seems to be mysteriously tied to my discovery of pretzel bagels and vegan cream cheese from Trader Joe’s. Hmmm. I can definitely tell that I’ve gained from the way my clothes are fitting. I know many people warned me that weight gain is common when marathon training, but I’m still not happy about it.
The race is two weeks from today, and I plan to make healthy eating a priority. I’m not going to try to lose weight, but I suspect that by simply focusing on eating more fruits, veggies, and whole foods and less processed foods (pretzels and granola bars mainly) and bagels, I’ll be able to lose a bit since that’s how I usually lose.
And…I’m tapering! My taper is starting much earlier than the classic Hanson’s plans, and I can’t help but think Coach Melissa is taking pity on me. In these next two weeks I have only two workouts of 8 miles and the rest very short, easy runs. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s a great feeling!
I know that a lot of runners have anxiety and fret about race day during taper, but so far I haven’t joined them. I’m still feeling very positive and confident. To keep my mind in a good place, I plan to read a new book, watch lots of Impractical Jokers, relax, and do gentle yoga, foam rolling, and stretching.
Also, I’m officially done with strength training this training cycle to keep the focus on rest and recovery. I’m relieved because not getting my sessions in because of lack of energy has been stressful. This past week was the first time in a while that I did zero strength. I was just too tired!
Here’s how last week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon near Pittsburgh on November 6 using a version of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 35.5
- Time running: 7:33
- Miles this training cycle: 527.28
- Miles this month: 141.5
- Miles this year: 1,245.32
Easy run: 4 miles (62 degrees)
This run almost didn’t happen. I had the day off work and slept in a little. When I took the dog for his walk, I was so tired and sore from Saturday’s half marathon that I’d used as a marathon pace training run. I was dragging just walking the dog and wasn’t sure I could do the 6-mile scheduled run. I came home and crawled back into bed, thinking I’d skip the run. But I kept remembering “Something is better than nothing” from the Hanson’s books, and I decided to just go out and do 3. I could do 3 in my sleep, right? It was humid and felt pretty warm, so I bribed myself to go just a bit farther to get to a water fountain. 4 miles out of 6. Better than nothing.
Speaking of Saturday’s Buffalo Creek Half Marathon, volunteers took pictures multiple times on the course and give them to runners for free. Here’s the best one of me from the race.
Rest day! Yes!
Marathon pace progression run: 8.5 miles (70 degrees)
I met Joanna for 6 miles of progression from 20 seconds slower than marathon pace down to marathon pace. Of course the heat wave of 70 degrees and 97% humidity showed up for my one workout of the week. Blah! Still, it was good to have company and the miles went fast, as they usually do when we run together. 1.5 miles warm-up and cool-down brought me to 8.5 for the day.
Recovery run: 6 miles
For the past few weeks I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. This is very odd for me since I never have trouble sleeping! On Wednesday night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. I headed out very reluctantly and sluggishly for this run on only 5.5 hours of sleep. I felt awful the whole time but got it done.
Easy run: 3 miles (45 degrees)
I tried some things to get better sleep on Thursday night, and they worked! I will be doing a separate post about this. I still woke up an hour before my alarm, but I got 7 hours of sleep, which is a step in the right direction. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to run. And then I stepped out into a cold, soaking rain. I was soaked within 1 minute of leaving the house. It was raining so hard that parts of the trail were a muddy river, and I was constantly stepping in puddles. Because I was wearing a hat, I carried my headlamp, which was annoying plus didn’t work as well as when I wear it on my head. So I was cold, soaked, and annoyed when I noticed that not another soul was out. Usually there are people commuting to work by bike, other runners, a few elderly people out for walks, and people walking dogs. I was the only one out in the awful weather, and that just made me mad. Why was I out in the cold rain and not inside like everyone else? And that’s when I called it. Screw my 6 miles. I was just miserable and stopped at 3.
Long run: 10 miles (43 degrees)
This was my last double-digit run of training. I drove out again to the Ghost Town Trail, the race course of my marathon. This time I started at an access point 6 miles into the trail so I could do the second part of the course. It was very windy, which made it feel very cold. I was just wearing my race shirt from last week’s race and was freezing! Once I got started I was fine, and gloves definitely helped. I think for the race I’ll probably wear something similar–a very light longsleeve and gloves. I also wanted to try out my gaiters that I just got.
This wasn’t a great run. I was tired the whole time and just not really feeling it. But I followed the plan and ran the second half faster than the first, finishing the last mile just under marathon pace, all with no problem. Still, I was so happy to be done!
I did take a brief shortcut to check out the remains of the Buena Vista Furnace along the trail.
There’s now a sign at the trailhead to advise people about the race. You can tell what a small race it is by this sign!
My gaiters worked great at keeping stones out of my shoes, but unfortunately were a bit tight. I might order a larger size for the race.
When I got home, I was totally beat. Django was ready for his walk, but I just couldn’t and Dave had to take him by himself. I ended up taking a 3-hour nap!
That night Dave and I went out for dinner and drinks to celebrate my last long run. My two drinks were a lot for me and did me in, and I ended up sleeping about 9 hours that night, for a total of 12 hours on Saturday! I needed it after all the sleepless nights recently.
Recovery run: 4 miles (41 degrees)
I was still really tired when I got up, and getting out the door was again a chore. But I kept my pace very easy, and it wasn’t bad.
Two weeks until race day!