Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hating the taper

Taper. It's a dreaded word by many a runner. It's that time when you significantly reduce your weekly mileage before a big race to let your body rest and prepare. After months of slowly increasing mileage, building endurance, and seeing tangible gains and accomplishments it's hard to downgrade back down to a couple of weeks of easy mileage. While I understand and agree with the necessity of the taper I still dislike it. What is it that we hate so much? For me it's the mental game and the waiting. First, I am not a patient person. I'm not good at waiting. Also, it's often in these taper weeks that questions and self-doubt start to creep in. Yes, idle hands (or feet) are the devil's playground.

"Will I beat my PR?"
"Am I losing fitness with this little mileage?"
"Am I prepared for the race distance?"
"Will I fall on my face?"
"Can I even do this?"

I am entering the last few weeks (days actually) of my pregnancy and I find I'm struggling with the same issues. I'm in a pregnancy taper so to speak. My body isn't allowing me to keep the "mileage" up that I'm used to. Even normal daily routine things have become difficult or just plain uncomfortable. The doctor says Baby Z could come at any time now, but they can't tell me when. I'm having to rest. I'm having to wait.

As with marathon training, the taper sucks.

"Will I be able to handle childbirth?"
"How will I handle the life change?"
"Am I truly prepared to be a mom?"
"Will I fall on my face?"
"Can I even do this?"

Instead of questioning and freaking out about the race, I'm questioning and freaking out about Baby Z. I am running the emotional gamut from excitement for his arrival, to denial (is this really happening?), to fear. One of the things that I find comforting (as cheesy as it sounds) is reflecting on marathon training. I survived the wait then. I completed both marathons with a finishing time I was proud of. I came out on the other side better and improved for all my hard work, perseverance, and patience (what little I have). I CAN do this!

So my question to you is what are your thoughts on the taper and how do you deal with it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dealing with jealousy and runner envy

I had a wonderful lunch today with my two best running pals. They wanted to take me out for a birthday/pre-baby lunch. I loved seeing them and catching up with them. We talked about babies and books and life and running. They are training for and running the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS in January. It will be one's first marathon and the other's second.

As I sat there and listened to them talk about training plans and fitting long runs in and planning for the next long run, I started to get jealous and full of runner envy! Me, Miss Chatty-McChatty Pants, got all quiet and clammed up. Who was this green-eyed monster rearing it's ugly head? I was upset that I couldn't be out there training with them and sharing the miles and stories. I was upset that I wasn't going to be able to have this experience with them. I felt left out and frustrated. That then lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame. I should be 100% supportive of my friends not bratty because I can't run this race with them. I was dealing with resentment: towards them for running without me and towards this pregnancy for keeping me from something I love: running and training for big races. Ugly, ugly, ugly...

I came home, had a good cry, and meditated/prayed on it. I decided I needed to put on my big girl panties (I hate the word panties but love the saying) and GET OVER IT! No more whiny self-pity indulgences. My friends need my encouragement and support! I need my encouragement and support! So what if I can't be out there logging miles with them right now. What I CAN do is support them and be a part of their training in my own way. Some of the things that I came up with:
  • Compile and text/email them motivational running quotes before their long runs
  • Put together 20 miler care packages (ibuprofen packs, menthol foot cream, carb-loading cookies, etc.)
  • Meet them for coffee after their long runs to be a sounding board about the grueling mileage
  • Meet them at the end of the long runs to run in those last grueling miles with them.
I know I'll be back out there with them in 2012! Working on my 2012 race schedule helps me deal with my runner envy. Knowing I have some great races planned gets me excited and vamped up for postpartum recovery and training. It's my way of encouraging and supporting myself.

How do you deal with runner envy?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Inside the Mind of a Runner

This is one of my favorite posts from my old blog. I thought it was worth a repeat here. Enjoy!

To run or not to run

Sitting on the couch, outfitted in my running clothes, I have visions of Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “He’ll keep calling meeee…. I’ll go. I’ll go….I’ll go”

Trying to motivate myself, I pull my sluggish body off of the couch, “I’ll go. I’ll go….I’ll go!”

Slowly I walk to the end of the block to my starting point - the stop sign. I bargain with myself, “One lap; that’s all you need to do. Just get through one lap. One point eight miles – you can do it. Easy.”

Ipod shuffle. Check. Shoes laced. Check. Deodorant. Check. Let’s go.

0.5 miles

The weather is great today. That rain really cooled things down. Nice breeze going, lightly blowing against my face. Ohhh… here comes a guy running the other way. OK, pick up the pace a bit. Look like you know what you’re doing here. Look like you’re an avid runner. Wave back. Smile and head nod. OK, he’s gone. Slooowww back down. Back to the agony.

1.0 miles

I hate the first mile. Man, this hurts. Where is that runner that was training for the half marathon? I liked her. She was smooth, strong, … confident. Where did this jiggly, spastic stride come from? Awww, what a cute dog. THEY won yard of the month? Would fajitas be good for dinner?

1.5 miles

OK, now I’m finding my stride! This isn’t so bad. I am an efficient running machine! Breathe in, breathe out…breathe in, breathe out. Relax your arms and shoulders. Ohhh…I like this song! I think I’ll speed up the pace a bit.

1.8 miles

OH MY GOD – that’s the longest song EVER! I hate that song! Fast forward. OK, coming up on one lap. How do I feel? Should I go for one more? Lungs, how’re you holding up?

“We’re a little tight, but holding on! Keep going!”


“Still pumping away! Keep going!”


“We’re just getting warmed up down here! Keep going!”

All right, knees you’re the weak link in the system. How are things with you guys?

“Wee’r givin’ ‘er all she’s got Capt’n but I don’ know how much longer she’ll hold.”

(Why my knees sound like Scotty from Star Trek I don’t know, but it makes me smile.)

Consensus – Keep going!

2.0 miles

Here comes the guy again. Head nod. Smile. I wish he would quit passing me! It’s hard to keep this pace up.

2.5 miles

I’m really finding my pace today. This actually feels great. How about adding a little speed work? Ok, sprint to the end of the street. Ready…Go!

2.7 miles

Ouch. That hurt.

3.0 miles

I’m rounding the last corner. Only half a mile to go. Relax the arms and shoulders. OK, time to trade out my tired legs for “NEW LEGS”. Commence with Operation New Legs.

3.4 miles

Bring it on HOME. Strong finish…The stop sign is only a few feet away now. I think I can, I think I can!

3.5 miles

Wow – what a high! I feel amazing! The runner’s still in there – I just had to dig a little for her. I feel like I could conquer the world right now! All right stop-sign, same time tomorrow. See you then.