Negative Thought Territory

I’m well into my taper and feeling…anxious. After my last long run (22-miler), I started to scale back the mileage in order to rest the leggies for the big day. I ended up running 49 miles last week + 1 day of elliptical cross-training. It was the least amount of miles that I’ve run since July, so why did I feel so crappy?? Thursday’s 2 x 4 mile tempo run kicked my ass and Saturday’s long run felt “meh”. Thus, my mind has been creeping into what I call “negative thought territory”.

I’ve been working hard, plugging away for nearly 4 months and yet I still find myself questioning my training. Did I do enough workouts? Take enough rest days? Are my goals too ambitious? Why am I SO tired? I feel like marathoners are particularly prone to these thoughts during the taper period – there’s not much else you can do during this time except “fine tune”. The bulk of your training is done, but yet you feel like there’s more you could or should be doing. When you add together pre-race stress (did you know accuweather already has a forecast for November 7?) and a reduction in mileage, it’s a recipe for restless Megan. I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel antsy and tired at the same time, but let me tell you – it is.

Uhh, so what is the point of this rant? I’m not sure. I guess I just needed to whine about how anxious I’m feeling. This is a big race for me and I’m scared I’m going to screw it up.

So, what do I do when I’m feeling stressed? I break out the Kitchenaid mixer and bake some cookies! My go-to, never fail recipe is infinitely adaptable. You can substitute  raisins, coconut, dried cranberries, or nuts for the chocolate chips. Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose or use granulate sugar instead of brown sugar. Make it your own! It’s a solidly delicious cookie recipe. Yay, butter.

Megan’s “Make Everything Better” Cookies



Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softenened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In a stand mixer (<3 kitchenaid) or with a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • In a seperate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly mix this into the buter-sugar mixture.
  • Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Cool on a wire rack and then devour!

Don’t you feel better already?

Running in the news

NPR recently ran a story about new research that might prevent the dreaded bonk at mile 20. My worst fear for 11/7/10? Hitting the wall. Well, that and torrential rain.

Live in NYC?  The Footlocker RUN store in Union Square is hosting a bunch of (free) running lectures/events this week!

Stressing about the unusually warm weather this week? Don’t fret! According to Runner’s World,  hot temperatures during a taper can be a really good thing.

What are you stressing out about this week? Sharing is caring!

  • I can totally relate. It is really hard not to have doubts when you are tapering. It’s the nature of the beast. I do what you do, I bake cookies! You are going to do great. You are prepared, you did the work. I know that doesn’t necessarily make you feel better but it is true!

  • Sorry that you’re stressing! At least it produced some delicious cookies as a result. I think chocolate will definitely help give you some more energy! 😀

  • those look like the cookies i just made! except i used pb chips. they totally do make EVERYTHING better.

  • I think everyone goes through the taper tantrums and doubts that they can actually reach their goals. It’s the nature of the game. But honestly, I’ve been following your blog all summer and I think you are going to SUCCEED your expectations. Good Luck!!

  • Sari

    You have NOTHING to worry about. You are going to kick butt next weekend. I am literally 100% sure of it.

  • Ach sorry you’re stressed, but you followed your plan to a T your body is just tired (I cannot FATHOM that mileage or speed!!) and wants a little rest until you can blow that 26.2 out of the water on 11/7! 🙂 Hope we can get a ‘recovery run’ in when it’s all over at some point!
    Sara

  • Melanie

    I totally hear ya and am going through the same thing. In fact, I’m feeling pain in parts of my legs that I’ve never had issues with before – freaking me the heck out!

    But ya know, I kind of think that is the point of the taper – for the body to repair any sort of micro tears & damage done during peak training period. It takes a lot of energy for the body to heal itself – hence the sluggishness. But at the same time, on another level you’re used to expending SO much energy on a daily basis for your training runs, so OF COURSE you’re restless. It’s natural.

    This is marathon no 6 for me….and the taper blues never get any better. In fact, I’m finding that the harder I train, the worse they get. So, know you’re not alone – but the extra sleep, as well as delicious cookies make it all better 🙂

    Best of luck to you 11/7 !

  • I’m sure you’ll do great in the race! You are an awesome runner! It’s hard in that situation, but you really just have to be able to trust your training.

    P.S. We absolutely have the same stress relievers. I love to bake when I’ve had a rough day as well =)

  • That’s why they call it taper madness, right? You put a lot of great hay in that barn. You’ll be just fine. 🙂

    And that RW article on heat acclimation? Wow! Improved vo2 max, cardiac output, and lactate threshold just from a little heat training? Heat acclimation providing more aerobic improvements than altitude acclimation? Those are some pretty provocative findings — I’m curious to see how the general running public responds — it seems like heat training would be a lot more accessible and easy to do than altitude acclimation.

  • I feel like the nerves and taper itch are kind of inevitable. You pray each time that this one will be different, but they are still there. I’ve been following your journey and I KNOW you did it all right and that you will totally ROCK this race. I can’t wait.

  • Good. If you’re entering negative thought territory this week, you should be well out of it by next week – which is the only week that counts! But here are some things that I thought about:
    1. Forget the weather until three days before. Ten-plus day forecasts are B.S.
    2. Your goals are NOT too ambitious. You have trained your tail off and are in amazing shape.
    3. You lemme know if you want to use your free time to do something fun/not-running or booze related. Once this Shakespeare paper is done, I am in the clear.
    4. Swing it around. but not yet.

  • pretty sure the negative thought is just your nerves getting to you, megan. i mean, i’m no marathoner (especially at this point!) but that’s what it sounds like. chin up, game face on, and taper it along. you got this! and you’ve got cooookiiieeeees!

  • it’s like the race is long enough away but so close, that’s when it gets really hard. it’s not tomorrow so you have to keep waiting… but you are SO ready for it!!!! if i had your training to stand on i’d be on everest 🙂

    i’m stressing about 3 exams starting today thru next thursday and a paper. and the project at work i’ve been working on for 3 years is going to be released on 11/15 and i’m responsible for making sure nothing is wrong with it!!

  • Erin

    When I saw the title of your blog for today, I have to say I felt a relief that I’m not the only one out there getting antsy and immediately looked forward to what musings you would have on the subject! Thanks for your reflections, as usual 🙂

    I can totally relate- I’ve had ups and downs all throughout training while being careful to keep my IT band happy- but now, it’s just flat out ANXIETY and negative thoughts! I felt so ready after my last 18 miler two weekends ago, and my 14 miler felt like a drop in the bucket last weekend. YET… here come the worries. And I agree with the poster above- the race is almost there, the last long run is out of the way… but you still have to hold on and stay healthy and strong for one more week and a half, which feels like forever.

    You are strong and an amazing runner- noone can take that away from you now, no matter how you perform in the marathon. Although, judging from all your entries, I have all the confidence in you and am looking forward to hearing about your experience and probably smoking-fast time.

    I do have a training qualm that maybe you can help me with- I ran 6 on Monday and felt a bit worse than usual IT-band-wise (and a few other kinks have arisen- calf tightness, achy hips, arch pain- I am worried…). My original plan was to run 8 today and 12 Saturday (I only do 3 runs a week due to the injury). However, as much as I do not want to, I am thinking maybe I should take the next days off running and do the elliptical, stretch, etc… if you were in my shoes, what would you do?

  • Kelly

    I think being nervous is good because it means you care! I just try to always trust in my training and believe in myself. I also don’t try to sugar coat it. I own up to the fact that it WILL hurt and WILL be hard but knowing that and dealing with that makes me a lot more able to cope with it when I am in the situation. When it gets tough I just tell myself that I KNEW it would be tough..this isn’t anything I wasn’t prepared for. You will be great!

  • Have a cookie, get a massage, relax. Of course you’re tired: you’re coming off of weeks of high mileage and it’ll take your body a while to regroup! That’s part of why you taper, right?

    I have full faith in your ability to kick ass. Just be patient and wait it out a couple more weeks.

    And oh yeah – can we make cookies when I come visit? 🙂

  • you’re going to have an AMAZING race. you’ve trained, you’ve nourished yourself, and now you get to stock up on sleep!! Trust the taper and enjoy those cookies while you’re at it!

  • I’m not really stressing about anything, just irratated with myself. Last week, I hurt my knee while running, as soon as that held, I pulled a muscle in my arm. I’m better now, but what am I going to injure next?

  • I love baking cookies to ease anxiety too 🙂
    In terms of the negative thinking and not feeling great during the taper, I think those are pretty common things for runners. I think sometimes when the body finally slows down after months of training, it finally “realizes” how tired it is and and goes into some kind of repair mode – just my theory, but maybe you could try interpreting your tiredness as your body telling you that you need to be taking it easy right now so that it will be ready to carry you through the marathon. During my own tapers, sometimes I get really weird tweaks in my body or start to feel sick. I try to take this as a good sign – that my body has absorbed all the hard work I put it through, and is taking the time it needs to replenish. You have plenty of time to feel better before Nov. 7, and I bet it will be a great race!
    Another thing I love doing is laying down, closing my eyes, and imagining myself during different points of the course, running strong and feeling good, and then visualizing myself crossing the finish line. It can be a really powerful exercise!
    Good luck with the rest of the taper!

  • Kristen

    Totally feeling the same way – i ran 4 miles last night at a snails pace and my legs have never felt that heavy, it was terrible, even when i went for runs after my 20 milers i felt better! what’s the deal? Can’t wait for November 7!

  • don’t you go doubting yourself girl, or i am going to have to come to NYC and kick your bootay!

  • I feel the exact same way friend. Especially after this morning – my legs felt SOOOO heavy during that run! Luckily, the other stress in my life (work, school) has forced me to not focus so much on the marathon-related stress. But gah – all in all, my life is a ball of stress.

    I think I need a cookie. Or three.

  • bethp262

    I am a complete accuweather junkie before a race. You can even check the hourly weather–a whole new level of obsession!

  • Katie

    Megan- seriously thank you for posting this, as well as all your ups and downs throughout your training period. do NOT apologize for whining! Actually hearing when you were struggling and what you were struggling with has helped me get myself through the training. NYC is going to be my 1st marathon, as well as 2 of my best friends in the city (we’re all running for the same charity) so all these weird anxieties and runner’s pains are new to us(from jeans not fitting to heavy legs and HUGE appetites, to worrying why 7 miles feels like torture sometimes, but our 20 mile runs are stellar! to checking the weather multiple times a day and sacrificing our social lives…yep.) We all read your blog, and it has helped SO much to read and you’d be going through the EXACT same struggles!! I think running anxieties(like misery!) enjoy company- and we now creepily refer to you as though we know you- i.e. “Well Megan had a tough run this past week too, her legs have been really heavy too, so its probably normal we feel this way!” No looking back now though- we’ve totally all got it!! Its been 4 months in the making! Good luck on Nov 7!

  • Catherine

    I have those days/weeks where I literally slog through my runs and I get home berating myself for how slow and crappy I feel. Tis life and running is cyclical and for you I think it is the anticipation that is killing your confidence.

    To make you feel better…I have a race this weekend. It is cross country style, distance is unknown (between 5K to 8K) and I am running on a city team. I have never ran cross country at all. I am also not a super speedy person. I am so afraid of being DFL.

    But you will rock the marathon’s socks off!!! You. Are. Ready!!!

  • Cookies are a good go to for me when I need to take a chill pull. Maybe it’s just the act of baking that helps.

  • Sorry you’re feeling so anxious. It’s a lot of buildup to a big event, but I think- from talking to you and reading- that you are so prepared! I hope you can get a little extra sleep, now that you’re in taper mode.

    Those cookies do look like they’d make things better 🙂

  • Amen, sister. Taper is not awesome, at least so far.

  • I actually wrote a post echoing these SAME feelings 2 days ago! And baked pumpkin bread to make it better–haha! So good to know we’re not alone in these thoughts and that we can’t forget the months of hard work we’ve put behind us…we’re fit! Now just to shake the sluggishness so in 11 days we’re fresh and fast! Hope you start thinking more positively soon.

  • jon

    hi megan,

    just wanted to say hello – i’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it’s been fun to read about your running/cooking/etc., especially in comparison to my own training. you’re going to be totally fine come nov. 7th, don’t worry!

    i can totally relate to your stressing out, but you’re now in a very enviable position – tapering and overall healthy! i’ve been training to run NYC too, and a in a period of 3 days, i went from totally healthy to an IT band that will barely let me walk – that’s what i’m stressing out about, to answer your question (it’s my “good” knee too – the other one has gone through two IT band surgeries…i never thought i’d end up with ITBS in the good one at the end of all these 60 mile weeks!) at this point, my “taper” means i haven’t run in more than a week and wondering if i’ll be able to toe the staring line in a week and a half.

    the moral of my pity party is this: enjoy the taper, you’ve worked hard to get to this point, deserve the easier workload, and it will all amount to an awesome marathon for you. it’s about the journey, not just the destination. the marathon is the final exam, but you’ve done your studying and know your stuff. good luck on nov. 7th – i’m looking forward to hearing just how well it goes! if the stars align (and massage therapists, and chiropractors, and foam rollers…:) maybe i’ll see you there!
    best,
    -jon

  • I’m shocked that I have almost every one of these ingredients already! Will definitely be making these cookies, pronto!