Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taper & Recovery Are 4 Letter Words

Both of these are four letter words to me! Okay, they aren't actually four letter words, but they both leave a bad taste in my mouth. Like someone made me wash my mouth out with soap!

I don't know which worse: tapering for a marathon or recovering from one.

Tapering is hard because:

1. You've gotten used to a high volume and you're running less.
2. You've gotten used to doing sweet long runs and you can't do them anymore. :(
3. You're anxious/nervous/excited about the coming marathon and the thing you normally do to work those feelings out is run but you can't because you're tapering!
4. You've gotten used to moving and now you are supposed to be taking it easy. Hello, Lazy!
5. Carbo loading isn't really that fun. It makes me feel bloated so I don't really carbo load anymore. Bad?
6. You wonder if you ran enough/did enough but there's nothing you can do now. Like they say, the hay is in the barn.

But recovering from a marathon is hard too because:

1. There's a period after where you can't all!
2. When you do start running again, you have to run easy. Nothing fast or long.
3. It takes weeks to build your volume up again.
4. It takes weeks to get your legs back to feeling normal.
5. It takes weeks to feel like they have some speed in them again.
6. You might have the Now What?s where you feel a little lost about where to go with your running next. Another race? Just run for fun?

So if tapering before a marathon and recovering after a marathon are so rough, why do I run them? That's easy! I run them because:

1. They're fun.
2. You get a shiny medal and shirt.
3. You might get pancakes after! Mmmm, pancakes...
4. You get to see some great places and meet some great people.
5. The adrenaline rush is amazing.
6. You get to find out what you are made of!

Yeah, the benefits of running a marathon definitely outweigh the not so fun taper & recovery. Did I mention the pancakes part? Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be one of those people who runs a marathon every weekend then I won't have to taper or recover! I have a lot of states to get through and I'm not getting any younger! ;)

It's been almost 4 weeks since I ran the Santa Rosa Marathon. Yesterday's run was the first run since then that I felt like I got some of my speed back. I ran 6 miles with 2 of them at tempo (8:34 pace) and then ran 6 strides after and felt on top of the world. I had been dealing with a cold for a week and that, along with the recovery, made me feel as slow as molasses. No, slower. I was starting to think maybe I would never get back to where I was before the marathon. But then I remembered that I thought that after the other 3 as well so it's just a part of the process.

Now it's only 3 weeks until my next race - A Hurricane JEM 16.5 mile trail race - and I'm ready to kick it into high gear for that and the rest of the year.

By the way, that's how I deal with the Now What?s. I make sure I sign up for a race to do after the marathon before I even run it. That way, I know what I am going to do next and I don't feel lost. Some might say they need the down time after a marathon to rest and not think about running but I'm not like that. I need to have a challenge out there. Because I cannot slide backwards! I have to, no need to keep moving forward. That's all there is to it.

What about you? Do you like tapering & recovering? How do you handle it?

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