Taming The Taper Crazies

Friday-eve! This week has kinda flown by, which is to be expected since we are now officially in the TAPER (…for the marathon at least ; ) ….)! I cannot believe that I’ll be running my 7th marathon in my 12th state in 11 DAYS!?!? I am so lucky to have maintained my fitness and health through some crazy winter stress-filled months and will be celebrating the last 12 months of fitness during race day. I can’t WAIT!

Flashback to yesterday’s run in PERFECT weather. Mid 40’s partly cloudy, damp trails.

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I ran to the library with my vest to pick up my new book that I reserved there WEEKS ago! Can’t wait to dive into it.

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I also then went to the gym to get in some strength work (since my membership is ending there at the end of April I want to use it as much as possible! I don’t use the gym as often in the summer months & do most things at home!) and then picked up the mail for my work (and there was A LOT of it so I got in some extra training for my ultra with all that extra weight). Also saw what I believe was an Osprey on my run back to work?

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Oh the joys of mud season. Your car is dirty, but do you gamble the dice and wash it (and hope that it doesn’t rain for a while) or do you leave it dirty for the season? Well.. I took the former and it snowed/rained, so at least it was nice and shiny for a whole 4 hours right?!?

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Since we are officially in the taper, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that I normally do in the taper! I’d also love to hear what you do, so make sure to comment below!

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  • DO NOT question your fitness

  • Look back over those crazy-hard runs/workouts that you conquered

  • Prepare for the race mentally. How will you feel at mile 1? Mile 10? Mile 20? Crossing that finish line?

  • Have some of your favorite mantras and practice them over and over again. Having just one may work for you, but I find having a few help (especially when I’m in a rut)!

  • Visualize yourself on the race course the best you can. I see myself driving my elbows back, my knees up - staying strong and steady

  • Know your nutrition plan and DO NOT alter or adjust it no matter how crappy you feel on race day. Know what works for you and DO IT!

  • Believe in yourself and be proud that you’ve made it this far. No matter what lies ahead of you on race, be proud of your accomplishments and OWN them! Don’t let anyone dull your shine.

  • Have a time goal? Repeat to yourself that you are a ‘x’ marathoner/ half-marathoner / 10k-er. I haven’t actually tried this in a race, BUT I have been taking every opportunity to repeat to myself that I am a sub- 3:40 marathoner. If you don’t believe it, then how can you expect it to come out on race day?

  • Read all the inspiring books you can leading up to the race.

    • Some of my favorites:

      • Finish First- Scott Hamilton

      • Let Your Mind Run- Deena Kastor

      • North - Scott Jurek & Jenny Jurek

      • How Bad Do You Want It - Matt Fitzgerald

  • Treat yourself before and after the race! I love to get my nails done, some like to get their hair done before…whatever works for you and then have something lined up to do AFTER the race. I love to pick out some sightseeing destination (if I’m not running at/near home) or some amazingly delicious restaurant reserved

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-Favorite taper recommendations?

-Are you superstitious? Do you do anything special before a big race?

-Car wash in mud season? Yay or Nay?

Training Tuesday: 10 Reasons Why I LOVE The Treadmill

Ok so probably if you’ve followed me on any of my social media platforms, you know that a fair share of my training has been done on the treadmill. Thank you Mother Nature! Between the ice, below 0* temperatures, and insane amount of snow we’ve gotten this winter- I don’t think I’d be able to get in half of my morning runs unless I had the treadmill to run on! I LOVE to run outside, but when I have no other viable and safe option —> I go to the good ole ‘mill. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite reasons why I LOVE this as a training option!

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-It builds up your mental strength. There’s nothing like knowing that you can just hop off at any time, but you focus your brain to be able to withstand that temptation over time.

-You can really hit your paces. I know that if I want to hit ‘x’ pace during a mile repeat or marathon paced miles, I just put the treadmill at that speed and hang on.

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-It builds up your leg strength with those incline options! There’s nothing else better (in my opinion) to get in an absolutely killer hill workout that won’t quit. I also love these treadmill hill workouts from RunFarGirl.

-It’s a safe option when you don’t have someone else to run with or know where you are. I LOVE to explore new cities on my own two feet, but sometimes it’s not always the safest option (especially if I’m traveling solo). I know that I will be able to get my workout in and be safe —> the most important part!

-It’s a nice change of pace, when you’re tired of your usual running routes. Sometimes I get in a rut of running the same ‘ol roads/trails. The treadmill helps me switch it up and I get the feeling like I’m taking a “break”.

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-It saves you from running outside when the weather is just AWFUL. Snow? Sub-zero temperatures? Insane amounts of ice? Blizzard? Extreme heat? The treadmill is really a gift when the weather outside is not the best.

-It keeps your easy runs honest. While the time goes by slower, I like to utilize the treadmill to keep my easy runs truly easy. There’s no downhill segments to speed up your legs- I just pop it on a really slow pace and completely ‘zone out’ for those miles. Sometimes they’re my favorite runs of the week.

-Netflix and treadmill? It comes in waves of sheer-boredom with the ‘mill and gratitude, but I (most of the time) love to catch up on one of my new shows (that I save specifically to watch on the ‘mill) OR zone-out to a show that I’ve seen a thousand times. I also really love to watch the news on the treadmill. Total geek, yes I know. If it’s the Today Show —> even better!

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-Simulate your upcoming race course. I live in a super hilly area (i.e. I don’t believe I’ve ever gained less than 400’ on a run no matter how ‘flat’ the road looks), so when my legs are absolutely trashed from running hills or long the day before - I honestly do not want to look at a hill ever again and driving to a flatter road isn’t in the question —> the treadmill at .5% incline feels incredible. I also know that training for Mt.Washington Road Race, I’ll need to really work on a pretty steep incline (12%-22%) - there is no hill around here that spans out for miles at that incline so the treadmill the BEST option.

-There is no traffic to worry about. Sometimes I get really frustrated with cars on the road not paying attention to me or plow-trucks coming straight at me. The treadmill is a really nice change of pace where I can feel SAFE and really zone out without having to worry about Mountain Lions mauling me, getting run over by a distracted driver, or being plowed up by a snow plow. <— one of my biggest fears right there!

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Tell ME some of your favorite reasons why you love the ‘mill!


Post-Run Recovery And Why It's So Important

Happy Tuesday! SO we’re officially back to winter this week (or well until at least probably March it looks like…). Mid 20’s are the high and negatives/ very low single digits until infinity. This is also my last PEAK mileage week before recovery next week. So while I know I’ll be super busy (and also on the treadmill more than usual), I know that spring is just around the corner AND that it doesn’t matter where I get my runs in, just that I still put in the effort. I’m ready to tackle the challenge. Just hoping it stays remotely warm-enough on Friday morning for my first 20 miler of this training cycle! Wohooo. I’ll be getting 36 miles over Thursday/Friday and am switching up my rest day to Sunday this week (normally I have it on Wednesdays) because it just works better with my work schedule this week. Here’s to hoping I don’t need to be THIS bundled up for my run on Friday!

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With my increased mileage, I’ve really been focusing on recovery. Whether you believe in active recovery days or complete rest days (I’m somewhere in between normally- I like to do something, but nothing that requires much effort). Some of my favorite ways to spend a recovery are swimming, getting a massage, or doing yoga.

When you train hard, your body begins to breakdown to adapt to the continual stress. When you recover, it gives your body time to repair those muscles. When you don’t take recovery seriously, you put yourself at an increased risk of injury, illness, or burn-out (among other things). Luckily there ARE things you can be doing to help speed-up that recovery process (and help your body get ready for your next run or big workout)! I also found a lot of great information in this article by Runner’s World.

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Here are some of my favorite ways to boost recovery (whether post-run or ON my recovery days)!

-Drink a lot of water and replenish any electrolytes. Think of water as the means to turn your muscles from ice to snow. It gives them their fluidity after you’ve been running with them for an extended period of time.

-Refuel with real food. 4 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein. I’ve been focusing more and more on refueling immediately after my run and I think it helps so much. You really need to plan-ahead post-run, but doing-so will help your body recover and decrease your risk of any sort of injury or illness. Dark Chocolate Almond Milk is one of my favorites or PB on Toast with Honey and blueberries or bananas.

-Epsom Salt Bath or Ice Bath. Ice baths are amazing to decrease the inflammation in your muscles, but honestly I have such a hard time taking one (I’m always SO cold). So, I generally apply ice to any problem areas I have (normally my plantar & knee) and will then hop into a hot Epsom Salt Bath after stretching.

-Stretch! I used to overlook stretching (I know, I know…shame on me), but now I take a few minutes to stretch post-run (no matter whether I’m running late or not!) and also stretch before going to bed every night. I haven’t had one niggle this training cycle thus far, so I think it’s helping!

-Yoga. I love JasYoga (they have a few free videos on YouTube that I love) and their running-specific videos.

-Get out for a walk. Ultrarunner extraordinaire, Karl Meltzer, takes his dogs for an hour long walk every morning (even post 100 mile races!). I think that says the importance of getting out and moving everyday even for an hour.

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What are some tips you’d add?

What are YOUR favorite ways to spend a recovery day?

Training Tuesday: Marathon Fatigue

Happy Tuesday! I’ve got another 7 miles at goal marathon effort on the ‘mill this morning (it’s just too cold/ icy out to do this in the early mornings on the roads in the winter, so I’m building up my mental stamina) and some strength. I’ve come to really look forward to my early morning Tuesday alarms (4am), although when it first goes off I definitely look something more-so like this:

I’ve been wanting to do a post about marathon fatigue for a while now because it’s something that I honestly always forget about (and I’ve ran 6 marathons). It’s those first 4 weeks or so of training (for me, anyways), where everything feels terrible. Your legs feel dead, speed is just not happening, and anything surrounding marathon pace is plain ugly.

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Your almost always tired and the fatigue in those easy recovery runs is 100% REAL. I always equate those recovery runs to running through mud, with weights on your legs. Which is honestly how these runs should feel like. They’re getting the blood flowing, your main goal is to NOT work your cardiovascular system too much (save it for those speed/long/tempo runs in your week!), and it’s just working out all those kinks. Which is why it should feel hard/terrible/aweful.

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Your body is also adjusting to a new schedule, which is one of the hardest things for me! Getting into a new routine is CHALLENGING. Until I make it a habit, it’s a struggle to get up early, find a good time each week to fit in my strength/ yoga/ rest day/ long run day etc. After those 4 or so weeks, I’ve finally adjusted (mentally AND physically) to training. I know how I’ll feel after certain runs and by trail and error (many marathon training cycles to go off of), and also when running/training works best for you. Unfortunately, if it’s your first or second marathon you may not yet have this down.

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Marathon training takes a lot of time and energy. FIguring out how it works into your schedule and ADJUSTING to it takes PATIENCE. It’s not going to magically feel good overnight (or rarely will you ever feel great until after race day) and it takes a few weeks to adjust to ANY new training plan/schedule/routine (like anything in life, right?). I think getting over that 4-5 week training hump is hard with every new training cycle I begin and sometimes I find that it isn’t working and something needs to change. I did this for my goal Fall marathon (LV Rock n Roll) and found that switching to the half would be best for me where I was in life at the moment. That’s OK and sometimes it’s harder to acknowledge where you are versus where you want to be and make adjustments from there. Give yourself time, patience, and grace.

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I’d love to know your tips when beginning a new cycle (marathon or something else!)- do you find to have an adjustment period? How long does it take for you?

Favorite day of the week? —> Almost always Thursdays. You’re on the cusp of the end of the week and by then I’ve got my long workdays behind me!

Where are you able to train right now ? Roads? Trails? Treadmill?