Exciting times! On Sunday I’ll be running my first marathon ever! Sam, who has a gift for generating blog ideas not just for herself but also for me, made a special request for a three-part series: 1. Taper week; 2. Race report; 3. Recovery week.
I’m not sure if anyone else is as interested as she is, but I’m going to oblige anyway. Having set aside my terror, I’m feeling kind of stoked about the upcoming marathon. Here’s what I know. It may not be pretty, but I will make it across the finish line. In my experience with anything I’ve not done before, feeling confident that I can finish one way or another is one key ingredient to making it to the end.
I’ve never gone into an event worried about a DNF, so why start now? I had my moment when I thought I might demote my registration to a half marathon, but I’m over it. A marathon it will be!
So what does taper week look like for me? I don’t have a very sophisticated understanding of what’s required. I didn’t do a lot of reading. I just consulted my coach. She suggested three short-ish runs this week: 40 minutes on Tuesday, 30 minutes on Thursday, and 20 minutes on Saturday. Nothing particularly exerting save for a few super-short sprint bursts on the longer run.
When I say I didn’t do a lot of reading, that’s because the reading I did start to do overwhelmed me. Much of what I saw on the internet suggested that my tapering should have started before this week. It kind of did, in that last week was a bit of a wash. But not in a structured or intentional way.
Then there’s the nutrition. Sam sent me this post about nutrition the week before the marathon. I started to read it but when it started talking about grams of carbs per 500 grams of body weight, it felt too complicated. For one thing, I’m just not all that good at counting grams of carbs. And for another, I’m just not all that good at seeing to it that I get a certain number of grams of anything.
So far my week-leading-up-to-the-race nutrition doesn’t look much different from any other week. Maybe I’ll regret that. The one thing I do plan to implement is low fiber, high carbs, and low fat for the 2-3 days before race day. I don’t need to count to be able to do that and it seems like a sensible plan.
I’m also going to follow the suggestion of 30-60g of easily digestible carbs for each hour that I’m out there. I can count race food–gels, shot blocks, dates–and figure out how much to bring and how best to spread it out over the duration, which I estimate will be at least five hours.
The psychological impact of taper week is that you have a lot more time to let your head mess with you. I first heard about that in this video that Caitlin of Fit and Feminist talked about when she wrote about her taper leading up to her BQ a few weeks ago. Here’s the video:
Call it heightened sensitivity or whatever. But yes, I can relate. I’m hyper-aware of every physical thing going on. I attended a Chi Running workshop on the weekend (blog post coming) and something we did that day (maybe the part where we ran without shoes–which I did against my better judgment) really activated my plantar fasciitis all over again. My mind went into a spiral: How am I going to run 42.2 km with this feeling in my right foot?
It’s fine now.
They also talk about getting lots of rest. I’m trying, but there is a ton going on in my life right now besides the marathon. So as much as I want to make race day the focal point, it’s really just one thing among several this week and that’s not what I had in mind when I signed up way back in the fall.
So I wouldn’t say this taper time is going especially well or that I’m doing it “properly.” But right now I can’t be too preoccupied with that. I’m getting in my runs as precribed, putting a halt on resistance training for the week, and doing one swim session on Friday.
I only have two real goals for race day (which I’m happy to report is expected to be partly sunny and warm but not hot hot): 1. Make it to the finish line and 2. have at least a little bit of fun.