Taper Time -- That period of weeks prior to a major endurance event, when an athlete reduces their weekly mileage and exercise regimen to allow their body/muscles to rebuild and recover from months of heavy preparation. It is a time for final mental preparation, deciding on race strategy, and relaxation.
And it can be a difficult time for us runners because while technically, we are happy our training schedules are slower reducing our weekly miles so we can get more sleep, in a ironic twist of fate we get 'twitchy' because we "aren't running enough/" We get more edgy; we start obsessing about our race preparations; we appear more restless. This syndrome is known as Taper Madness. But we hope our loved ones bear with us during this period, content in the knowledge that all this will end the day after we cross the Finish Line.
I found this funny video about Taper Madness from the 'diva perspective' but I think it applies to all runners. Enjoy!
First, the latest statistics! My training mileage has reached 322.3 miles! Yay, I broke the 300-mile milestone! 91 miles of that were recorded so far in September. No doubt that September will be another 100-mile month for me. I won't lie -- I am glad that my training schedule for the remaining months of 2012 will not require me to run that many miles per month (hmm... well December might come close due to training for the Goofy Challenge).
Last week, I received my Participant Confirmation Booklet for the Chicago Marathon! Several of my friends had received theirs early in the week. I did not get mine until Wednesday. This race is almost here! Things are getting real now! This is exciting! At this point, it is pretty much all I can thing about (did I mention Taper Madness....).
So at the end of Taper Week 1, I am happy to report that I only ran for 22.6 miles in three training runs. I took the first couple of days to rest after my 20-mile race (and, I was suffering from a bout of 'I don't wanna get up early!'). So my first run was Thursday evening. This was a cool run because it was a 'fun run' organized by the Runner's Edge (a running store) and Brooks Running. The Brooks rep was offering several raffles, plus a free Pasta Feast after the run. Cool, right?
So I drove there right after work. When I arrived, I found that they were also allowing runners to take a pair of Brooks shoes on a 'test drive' during the run. So I chose a pair of PureFlow shoes (I have been looking at these for a quite a while but hadn't 'pulled the trigger'). The run itself was pretty fun -- a 4-mile run on both asphalt and limestone paths at a 9:51/mm pace. The shoes felt great. Then we ate some great food while we waited for the results of the raffles to be announced. Unfortunately, I won nothing! Man, I really wanted to walk away with a pair of free shoes. Oh well...
On the drive home, I started to feel bad. Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, the works. I figured it was allergies since we had just run through a park. By the time I got home, I was a mess. I ended up sleeping on the sofa because I didn't want to wake up my wife throughout the night with all that noise.
I ended up going to the doctor on Friday because I was too afraid this was something more than allergies and I do not want to miss the Marathon due to illness. Well, it turns out I have a mild case of bronchitis. Go figure! So he ordered a V-Pak of antibiotics and a nasal spray. (Note: decongestants are not good for runners because they cause dehydration and can cause elevated heart rate in some people. The nasal spray option for sinus congestion avoids these issues. I am so glad my doctor is a fellow marathoner).
After seeing my doctor, I had to solve my other 'problem' -- the running shoes I had planned to use for the Marathon were too worn to wear any longer! I thought I was going to wear my Saucony Kinvara 3s for the Marathon but recently, I decided they wouldn't have enough cushion for me to go 26.2 miles. So for the 20-Mile race, I wore my other shoes instead, my PureCadence. They were fine during that race, but that was when I realized they were too worn to use any more. I knew I had to replace the shoes immediately so that I would have
enough time to break them in before October 7th.
So after consulting with my natural running coach (who also works at my running store), I purchased a pair of the PureFlows that I wore the previous evening (they did not have a pair of PureCadence in my size). She did another gait analysis, foot weight displacement test (for orthotics), and made sure that these would be the best option for me. She confirmed that I did not need special inserts, and that the PureFlows were a good fit for me.
Now all I have to do is break them in! So on Saturday, I went out with my friend Mike for our Long Run. He needed to go for 14 miles (I was only scheduled for 12). So we went for his mileage. It was a great day for running! We went for about 9.5 miles at a good 11:30/mm pace. But then Mike started having some ankle pain (something he experienced during his recent Air Force Marathon). So we switched to Run/Walk for the remainder of the Long Run because we didn't want to cause additional injury to the ankle. It was still an awesome time, and we got in 14.9 miles in the process.
The good news for me was that the shoes performed very well! I had no unusual foot pains, no hot spots, nothing. Whew! Then today (Sunday), I got up before church and ran for another 3.6 miles at a 9:58/mm pace and felt great! Once again, no post-run foot pain or soreness! I am very excited about this. I think these shoes will be just what I need for the Marathon. Next week will add another 18 miles or so on the shoes, so if everything goes well, I will have about 40 miles on them before race day. I think I dodged a bullet this time!
Tomorrow will be a Rest Day to start things off for Taper Week 2. I am looking forward to resting more (now that the running shoe stress has been lifted) this week. I am looking forward to a Wednesday evening run with a friend of mine John Chlebek, who has run marathons before. I look forward to running with him and listening to his experiences and any 'marathon wisdom/tips' he shares with me.
And I am going to try not to let Taper Madness get the best of me. LOL