Tag Archives: Taper

Cruel Jewel Tapering, April 23-May 4

Feet in the grass, and these cloud shorts make me happy!

Well that’s not your typical week cycle, I know, but its sort of how this week went.  I felt a tweak in my calf last Wednesday, tried to roll it and stretch it and work it out…I thought I had, but 7 miles into my usual 20 mile workout I had to quit with pain in my calf that traveled down to my Achillies tendon. Very SAD face 😦

I have had Achillies Tendonosis before (that’s what its called once your tendonitis has been ignored for so long that the tendon is no longer getting blood flow and is sort of rotting apart..) EW, I know.  I should know better; well I do know better, now.  So I stopped right away on Thursday, ran some very slow. short, easy miles on Friday, hiked on the treadmill on Saturday, followed by some balancing and leg strengthening exercises, and then was talked into warm-not-quite-hot yoga with my sister for 2 hours.

Enjoying a morning walk with Mr. Emmitt

The yoga actually helped immensely, I just get so bound up sometimes.  The heat and the humidity, and the last 40 minutes were longer held stretches.  It seemed to help me a bit.

Trying out my new Vest Pack from Orange Mud with my best bud.

However, it wasn’t enough, I could still feel the tendons in my lower leg snapping against each other when I went up and down stairs.  So I did what every injured runner on their third day of injury (during what is supposed to be their peak week of training);  I threw myself a huge pity party.  I slept in so late that my husband; the connoisseur of weekend sleeping in,  insisted that I was in bed too long. I listened to 4 podcasts, cleaned the house, and then got back into bed and binged on netflix while Emmitt the dog happily joined me for a pity party snuggle.

I know, right, totally self indulgent there.  I think I just needed one of those days to just lay around.  No major house projects, no going out, no plans, just quiet.

Monday I felt much better and got in to see my massage therapist, who really I only get to see in desperate times, and this was one of those times!  He started working on my left calf, gentle at first…and then I could tell he was getting frustrated.  There weren’t “knots,” each muscle and tendon in my lower leg; calf, ankle, shin, foot were pulled tight, like..I believe he said a guitar string and he was having a hard time loosening anything up.  He spent more than 1.5 hours just from my knees down.  I am very grateful for his strong hands and determination, I left feeling so much better.  I was able to run easy on Monday afternoon, and then nice and speedy on Tuesday.

Since I missed out on TWOT last weekend, hence the pity party, I decided I was just going to try to run Umstead as fast as I could repeating ever hill at least twice around and aim for 20 miles in 2:40 or less.  I was so close, 2:41…but my hips were finally open and my ankle could move again! YAY!

Of course everything tightened back up again later in the week, not as badly as before, but still the nagging calf tightening, which has traveled to my ankles, pulling something out of line so my ankle is locking from time to time.

Very easy day at the stadium, focusing on form and soft landing.

The rest of my training isn’t much to mention.  I had a few good runs, and a few runs I had to cut short because the stabbing calf pain came back.  I am really starting to worry that this won’t be resolved in time….but still trying to stay positive!

I don’t want to complain or dwell on it though.  The weather has been beautiful, I have less than two weeks of tapering. I got to garden, do packet pickup for the race we TrailHeads put on in May; Philosopher’s Way Trail Race.  That was fun, despite the single track trails being closed due to wet weather.  (it was kind of a shock, they had never closed the trails due to rain before, and we didn’t have much actually.)   It was fun to run the double track though and cheer on runners.

Goofing off with friend, Katie at Philosopher’s Way Trail Run after packet pickup duties were done. (Mr Emmitt looks confused)

Other than that there’s not much to tell.  Just taper, roll, rest, eat, repeat.

Sorry for the lack luster post.

Hope you all are having a happy spring full of sunny training!


Taper Wisp vs Recovery Wisp

No one at my house likes the taper, dog must settle for a walk.

I am two days away from my first 100k, Thomas Jefferson 100k outside of Charlottsville, VA.  My peak week (mileage) was 4 weeks ago due to all the snow, ice, and mud we had in the last few weeks. I ran 107 miles.  I would have preferred it to be 3 weeks ago, but what can you do.  3 weeks out I dropped looking at mileage and just looked at hours on my feet since 5 miles with perfect trails does not equal 5 miles running on ice, or slush.  2 weeks out I ran 70 mile, last week 56, and this week ran 15 walked 7.

The 70 mile week was ok, I was having a harder time falling asleep but otherwise I felt good, the 56 mile week I started to feel like I was missing an old friend.  I cleaned, I walked my dog more, I decided to watch all the documentaries I have been meaning to watch…and then there was this week.

I became cranky (hormones are also to blame here) I have had the most amazingly vivid dreams all week. I died in a plane crash, I woke up in someone else’s life married to someone I have never seen/met, I have seen old friends, my deceased grandfather, shark attacks, and the ever present stress dream: showing up to a final never having gone to class.  I would like to think this is my body and brain’s way of recovering, and not just some weird trip I am on 🙂

I have been so unfocused and ADD-like.  I will start one thing, and while doing that one thing, it will remind me of some other errand or chore and I’ll be off doing that.

Spring is here!

Its spring break at the university here, and my work tends to ebb and flow with the students and professors, work has been slow this week and while it is wonderful it is also making me a little crazy.

Lets take yesterday for example, I woke up at 6:30, but my husband hit snooze and convinced me to stay in bed. I did, and fell back asleep.  I woke to the sound of birds, and my dog sitting on my leg..at 8! OOPS! Took him on a short jog, did some yoga, went to the grocery store, which then took me to the bank.  I got home and opened my front closet where all my running shoes and gear are kept.  It was a mess. I dropped the groceries (making sure the perishables were in the fridge) and started to organize my closet,  I pulled everything out..and found bulbs I had put there this winter…so I grabbed my shovel and headed out to the garden and planted the bulbs.  I came back in and found the closet and all its guts strewn about the front hall…back to cleaning it out.  “Oh, here are those pants I have been meaning to donate, maybe I should check upstairs in my regular closet.”  Which led me upstairs and through all my clothes. This also led me back downstairs to do the laundry, 3 loads of laundry that is.  With a pile of clothes to donate, and now a pile of clean clothes, I was buried in folding for a while.

Oh yea, the front closet..back to that..well, I would be back to that much later because I had to go to work briefly.

FINALLY, I got home and put its contents back neatly; I remembered I had to do some things on the computer.  My computer sits in my kitchen, so of course that meant I started putting the rest of the groceries away…which got me thinking about dinner, I mean it was 3:30 now.  So whats for dinner…? “Oh, maybe I should make some banana bread for my crew this weekend.”  With the banana bread in the oven, I started some photo editing-for this;  but forgot dinner.  At 4:30 I went back to start dinner and take the banana bread out (that banana bread didn’t last..I needed to taste test it, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, what happened to that loaf).  Which means while I am here typing this I am thinking about making pumpkin bread in the back of my mind.

Back to yesterday, I finished making dinner, and editing photos, made some other snacks for this weekend and started laying out my gear for TJ100K.  I spent the next hour messaging friends back and forth about the Cruel Jewel Experience Project.  Meanwhile trying not to get too anxious about tapering and losing a week of quality hill climbing for Cruel Jewel…wait one week, no maybe two if you add in recovery..ugh!

And lets not forget the phantom taper pains.  “My arm hurts..my arm? Random. My ITB is sooo tight, is that a pinch in my ankle? Why is my shoulder aching?”

By now it was 8:40 and D was waiting upstairs for me to put away the computer and phone and just have some quiet time together (and a back rub, YES!!)

Now this post will have to end here, come back next week for the conclusion and to meet my recovery brain…she is 180 from this taper brain that whirls a mile a minute.

Competition; Why Do Some of Us Put Ourselves Through the Emotional ups and downs of Racing?

Its that Uwharrie time of year again when my TrailHead running group spends all of Dec and Jan preparing for their 40,20, or 8 mile trail races in the woods of Troy, NC.  I love that this race is such a big focus for my running group, its so nice to have so many people to train with during the dark and cold winter months.

Uwharrie, for me, was my very first trail race..it was also my very first Ultra, and was also my very first time placing in the top three over all (not just in my age group.)  It launched me into my ultra career (if you can call it that..)  Either way, it holds very special memories for me, but I am not a person that tends to do the same race over and over, so this year I am not running it again.

Several of my friends and training partners are, however.  Some people get stir crazy and have loads of energy, some people get grumpy, others get phantom pains, and of course others get all of the above.   It reminds me of my dreaded taper tantrums, which I have come to both love and hate.  (My husband just mostly hates my taper tantrums,) but they are part of being a competitive runner.  Now when I say competitive runner, don’t misunderstand my meaning, I think everyone can be competitive if they choose…whether its competitive with yourself, with a certain time goal, with people in your age group, or competitive with the whole field hoping to win overall.

Most recently I was talking to one of my friends, Jordan, who is hoping for an overall win.  He has trained hard, recovered correctly, and eaten right.  He has the physical, psychological, and emotional potential to win Uwharrie outright and is currently in that emotional holding pattern right before the race where this imagined weight is crushing him.  The weight is that of his expectations, and of other people’s expectations…but mostly his.  He knows right now that he has all this kinetic energy that is loaded up in his legs to potentially carry him a win, but there is always the unknown that can bring you down and mess up your desired outcome.

We can only control our preparation, and our planning, its impossible to control race day mishaps.  To some people, this lack of control drives them nuts in the 48 hours leading up to a race.  We get moody, we get angst, we can’t concentrate or relax….so why put oneself through this?

My answer:  It makes me feel more alive, it makes the thrill of hitting or surpassing your goal that much sweeter!   Its the same way a terrible defeat can make a later victory that much better.   Do it for the ear to ear grin when your hard work pays off!

10 must-do taper rituals.

My first race of 2014 is fast approaching.  The Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 mile.  With NC getting hit pretty hard with snow this past week, Mitchell saw a foot of the white powdery stuff, and there were rumors of more!

I thoroughly enjoyed the unprecedented 6 inches we got here!  (A huge change from growing up north of Boston,) but I had a great time never-the-less.  I had so much fun, in fact, that my calfs were so knotted and sore from slipping around uphill and downhill in the snow.  I was a tad worried…but think I worked the knots out with my trusty PVC pipe and lacrosse ball.  Yes, I said PVC pipe.  My knots can be really gnarly and after someone joked about buying a cheap pipe..I thought I’d try it out.  Can’t beat it, firm, pre-cut to the right size, and just $4. (NOTE: if you try this, only use it on your really fleshy parts of your calf, quads or hamstring, it will bruise the heck out of you if you roll over any bony parts of your body.)  I still use a regular old foam roller for my back.

So onto my taper checklist:

1. Charge Garmin!  I will admit I am not a slave to my garmin, exactly..but there are times when the adrenaline and excitement are driving me, and rather than go out too fast at the beginning if I keep my eye on my pace it helps me reign it in and stay on target (and not hit a wall the last 5 miles..ouch!)

2. Decide on waist water bottle pack, or backpack.  I tend to leave this decision to the last minute. I would prefer to just carry a water bottle around my waist, but if its going to be really cold or really hot I may take the backpack to carry more layers, or just more water between aid stations.

3. YOGA! I can’t stress how much yoga helps me in the two weeks before a race.  I usually max out mileage at 100+ which will make you tight as all heck! And when you factor in lunges and squats and core work, I need to stretch out my hips and abs big time! (this really also includes foam roalling…or PVC rolling…)

4. Short runs with pick ups.  Now is not the time to be starting speed work, or accumulating miles..but I always feel its important to remind your feet what it is they are supposed to do, and how fast they should do it. Unless its a race longer than 50 miles, if it is I tend to walk and jog a lot more during the taper, and not run any pickups.  For instance Mitchell is a 40 mile race so this morning I headed out for a 4 mile run, warmed up comfortably for a mile, then ran fartleks: ran each straightaway at a 6:30 pace, then recovered by jogging until I felt more than ready to do another pick up.

5. Beets and Spinach for nitrogen.  I love beets and spinach anyway, but I try to make sure I have plenty of both in the two weeks leading up to a race.  I also cook a lot more, I tend to prepare whole foods to bring with me when I travel to races.  There is nothing like pulling into a town and finding out there are only fast food places, when you know that at mile 20 those fries aren’t going to be sitting too well.  Plan ahead and bring some tried and true meals with you.

6. Shave.  Might sound silly, but it makes me somehow feel better, faster, cleaner? If nothing else, its just one less thing to worry about chafing.

7.  Taper off of caffeine.  I must state, first, that I am not a coffee drinker, I am a tea person.  Green tea, black tea, yerba mate before long runs.  However, for the two weeks leading up to my race I cut it all off.  First, it tends to help me sleep better, I have more energy as it is because I am not running so I don’t need the added caffeine. Second, is has been shown that tapering off of caffeine helps its efficacy when used as a stimulant during an event.

8. If I have the time and money I will get a pre-race massage. This doesn’t happen as much as I would like….

9.  Wash and organize 2 different outfits for the race.  Why two you ask?  I have  my “its going to be cold” outfit, and my “surprise its a lot warmer than they predicted” outfit.  In a pinch, if the weather is somewhere in between, then a combination of these two race outfits are perfect! Always have my Altra Lone Peaks ready as well.  #rethinkrunning !

10. And finally, read over the course description and other people’s blogs about the race one more time to get a feel for the distance between aid stations, and how that felt for people.  All miles are not created equal.  5 miles on a flat course is much faster than 5 miles of a huge climb.  It could be the difference between an hour, and many hours.  Don’t be surprise on race day with just your small hand held because you thought there were only a few miles between aid stations, not realizing that it would take you much longer to get from one over a mountain to another.

Well that about covers it for me.

What are your pre-race/taper rituals?!

Surviving the winter “blahs” and a taper

So as much of the country has been experiencing plummeting temperatures, long, cold grey days, and ice, freezing rain and snow, its sometimes hard to stay sunnybeachmotivated.   I think about the summer and my trip to the Outer-banks of NC.  I love the sun, I love the heat.  I grew up north of Boston, and when I went away to college I knew I wanted new surroundings, and SUN! I went to the University of Arizona in Tuscon..how’s that for sun!?

I still miss the desert, there is nothing like the pinks and purples of a desert sunset, or the smell after a monsoon rainstorm after it quenches the parched desert…but I digress…

This week is the start of my taper for Mount Mitchell Challenge, a 40 mile run up eastern, and back down America’s highest point.  I bought my first pair of micro-spikes to tackle the ice and snow, and I can’t wait to get my Altra Lone Peak’s out there, to see how they do in the mountains.   I’m a mix of excitement, and nerves.  I know 40 miles is no problem to finish, however, the snow and ice and cold are my biggest adversaries…oh not to mention how I HATE tapering.  My dog Emmitt would like to mention, he also hates the taper, and does anyone want to take him on a long run in the woods? How long do you taper?

I have been keeping myself busy by designing and drawing shirt logo’s for local races.  The one below is a rough draft for Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs, a race my trail running club organizes every May.  Its supposed to be a hobbit-like map of the trail system the race is run on.

IMG_20140205_100052shirtThe blue shirt is from a fatass 50k this winter.

I have also been day-dreaming of ultra races that I’ll do later this year when its warmer.  Two that I am very excited about is Bighorn 50 in WY, and the Barkley Fall Classic 30.  I realize neither is a 100 mile race, which are usually my big “A” race of the year, but I have never been to WY and I hear that this race is as beautiful as it is challenging.  The race starts at 8,800 feet above sea level and boasts 360 panoramic views and seas of wildflowers.  A group of almost 30 of my closest running friends are all signed up for the races (100m-30k.)

As for the Barkley Fall Classic 30, I have a few friends who have attempted the Barkley, both failing, but the idea of that race has kept me quite intrigued.  So when I heard about the shorter version I had to sign up right away.  Funny to have a 30 mile race with 20,000 feet of elevation change, not to be confused with gain.  It must be a beast to have a 13 hour and 20 minute cut off for a 30 mile race!  Very excited! Bring on the warmer temperatures already!

Anyway, back to my taper.

How long do you taper for?   How do you stay motivated though the short, cold days of winter?