Ready for a rest

The marathon is 19 days away and it’s TAPER time! What exactly is a taper? Running Guru Pete Pfitzinger (yeah, I’m a little obsessed) describes it best in one of his running lab reports:

“Tapering means cutting back your training, so that your body can rebuild to peak strength. Tapering allows your muscles to repair the micro-damage of intervals, your energy systems to store up glycogen, your body to overcome the chronic dehydration of hard training, and that last bit of tendonitis in your knee or ankle or hip to finally go away.”

I just put in 4 months of hard training, so easing up in the weeks prior to the marathon may seem counter-intuitive, but I know I’ve got to trust the taper. One of my favorite running mottos is “The hay is in the barn”. I’ve trained all summer and fall – the work is done. The next 3 weeks are all about fine tuning and mental preparation.

Since last week was my mileage peak (72 miles), I plan to gradually ease up over the next 19 days. This week I’ll run about 50 miles (30% reduction in mileage), followed by 36 miles (50% reduction) the next week, and ending with about 18 miles in the week leading up the the race. I’ll do tempo runs on the next two Thursdays and will end my final long runs (a 14 miler this Saturday, a 10 miler the following Sunday) with some marathon paced miles. I’ll try to do core work a few times a week, but no real strength training (haha…not like I do that anyway). The goal: get rid of any nagging injuries, avoid sickness, and store muscle glycogen!

My thoughts on the taper? BRING IT ON. It has been a loooong training cycle. I’ve been waiting to run this marathon since mid-2009 (I had to defer my entry last year due to injury) and I started serious training back in June of this year. I am ready for a rest. I may be singing a different tune in a few weeks when I feel slow and bloated (reduced mileage + carbo loading = tight pants!), but for now I’m trying to enjoy the extra bit of free time. And after the marathon? As much as I’ve loved training for 26.2, I’m itching to run some faster, shorter races. I’d like to run sub-1:30 in a half marathon, sub-40:30 in a 10k, and maybe a track race or two for old times sake (bwahaha eventhough I swore that I was done with track when I graduated from college).

Sometimes when I think about what a big role running plays in my life, I get a little nervous. It’s scary to think that an activity that’s so important to me, can also be so cyclical. An injury, an accident, or a busy schedule can easily put me out of commission. Running is my stress reliever, my social life, and one of the greatest sources of fun and accomplishment in my life. But how long can I keep it up? I mean…let’s be honest – I’m not going to be running 70 mile weeks and racing 10k’s forever. I DO hope that I continue running for a long, long time, but I also think my relationship with running will change and evolve. Right now, we’re madly in love with each other. Everything is going well, I’m running high mileage, snagging PR’s, and feeling healthy. But it’s completely possible that we’ll hit some rocky patches in the future. Maybe we’ll take a break, maybe I’ll start an affair with cycling…it’s hard to tell. I don’t know what my body (and my schedule) have in store for me, so I guess for now all I can do is appreciate the hard work I’ve put in and hopefully (!!) reap the rewards on November 7th.

In other news, I had a very delicious dinner yesterday. If you read this blog often, you probably realize that’s it’s NOT a diet blog. Heck, with all the beer and cheese I consume, I’m not even sure this  can be considered a “healthy living blog”. Hopefully the forthcoming recipe won’t scare anyone away. Real butter and cheese, huzzah! (Note: since reading Nina Planck’s book Real Food this past summer, I’ve made the switch to mostly full fat dairy and am loving it.  I’ll probably do a full blog post on this sometime soon.)

Grilled Ile de France Camembert & Brown Butter Pear Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 pear, cut into thin slices
  • 1 Tbs butter plus more for grilling the sandwich
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Arnold sandwich thin (or whole wheat bread)
  • 2 oz Ile de France Camembert (or Brie) cheese

Directions:

  • Cook the butter over medium-high heat until browned and toasty smelling (2-3 minutes)
  • Add the pear slices and cook until softened, add the sugar and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Sandwich the cheese and pears between two slices of bread. Butter the bread and grill both sides in a pan over medium heat. When cheese has melted, remove sandwich and cut in half.
  • Devour!

Yum, yum, yum. I love the combination of strong cheese, sweet fruit, and rich butter. I served my sandwich with kale chips and ketchup – gotta get in those veggies!

Question for you – Is there anything you’d like to see more of on the blog? Any running or marathon training topics that I haven’t covered? Any specific questions or recipes? Please let me know in the comments!

  • i love your thoughts on the taper. BRING IT indeed. you are READY 🙂

    and gaaaaaaaaah now that you’ve asked what i want more of i’m drawing a blank! butttt and i don’t know if you’ve answered this already i’d want to know how you balance a social life and training. i find it sooooooooooo hard (although it’s doable) to maintain a balance between the two. i get stressed out sometimes trying to keep a balance hahah

  • You capture the cyclical nature of running very poignantly here. I’m in a similar place to you: I’m adoring this “running” phase of my life and simultaneously aware that it won’t last forever in this particular capacity.

    That sandwich looks and sounds heavenly!

  • Even if it feels a little counter-intuitive to slow down your mileage, I saw enjoy the break! You’ve worked hard for it!

    That dinner looks lovely, by the way!

  • wow, you peaked at 72 miles?! thats a good week! I wish my body could handle that kind of mileage…maybe some day. I used to skeptical of taper as well but for this past marathon it proved to be my friend! Due to some knee problems and an untimely cold, I ran one 10-miler exactly a week before my fall marathon and didn’t run at all until the big race…I was able to hit my goal with seconds to spare!

  • Jessica

    I looove the taper! even though I always feel guilty >.<

    how about some sneaker reviews?? as such a high mileage runner I'm sure you go through sneaks a lot ! or at least have tried all different kinds? Do you use different pairs for long runs vs tempo? or when racing? how often do you recycle? I love my broken in Triumphs so much even though they have more than 500 miles on them already. I just ordered a pair of Saucony Kinvaras and am waiting for them to come in but I am super excited to see if they are as light and fast as everyone says!

    Thanks! and I LOVE grilled cheese and fruit. Heaven all rolled up in a bite.

  • Anne

    What do you think about “barefoot” running mouvement and the new “barefoot” shoes etc. ?

  • Pearson Smith

    I absolutely empathize with the idea of “where will running take you.” I love it so much right now and can keep a 40-60 mile a week, but will this last? Should I worry about this? It is hard to think I won’t run, but I guess you have to let things come as they do and not worry about the relationship that will evolve with other activities! I liked your insight

  • Claire

    I would love to know a bit more about your stretching routine – what you do before and after each run. What stretches do you consider to be the most vital to your training? (This interest is a selfish one – my hamstrings are soo tight and I can’t seem to loosen them up.)

  • You are awesome. This was a GREAT post – love your ruminations on running and then to top it all off – that sandwich! Lord, woman!

    Your marathon is going to be so great – can’t wait to hear all about it!

  • Eileen

    That sandwich looks amazing! Thanks for a great idea.

    Here’s some good news, which I think you probably already know: Women peak really late, relative to men and relative to all the things that go on in their peak years (i.e., CHILDBIRTH!) If you continue to listen to your body and take breaks as needed, I’ll bet you will remain VERY competitive right through your 30s. You are an awesome runner, and I love reading your blog.

  • Robert

    Training during the winter. I’ll be running in Boston next April and would love some advice on how to keep up with everything during the cold months. Last year I used an indoor track and hated nearly every minute of it. I live in northern Illinois and the snow/ice can really get in the way, especially when I am trying not to risk injury.

    Any advice?

  • Beth

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen you mention it, but aside from logging your time and speed for various runs, do you factor in other stats with your training? Do you wear a heart rate monitor and base workout paces on heart rate zones? Have you ever had VO2 max tested? You’re in such amazing shape that I’m sure it takes a lot to get your heart rate racing!

  • Beer reviews!

    Seriously. But really, Megan, your blog is just a true pleasure to read. And combined with the fact that you are having such a breakthrough season, yours is on my top three list. You’re funny, honest, and SOOOO FAST. But, um, how do you pronounce Camembert? I have only ever said it in my head.

  • Kelly

    It’s funny because I had a relationship with running just like you last year and then was sidelined with an injury and I also had to defer my NYC Marathon entry this year. But I actually learned a lot about myself and my relationship with running. I learned that running is not the end all be all and that my life does hold a lot value outside of running. I am finally cleared to run again but have been going slow 4-5 milers…nothing stressful. But I find that it is okay. I do miss being in the type of shape to just lace up my sneakers and go for a 15+ miler without a second thought…but I also think that I missed out on a lot of things because of my running. I know I will run the NYC marathon one day but maybe now it isn’t so important that I do it the best but maybe just that I do it. For me…this is a much more healthy approach to running.

  • Mmm, that sandwich looks yummy. Anything with cheese and pears in it is a winner in my book!

    And really, I don’t think the blog is missing anything to me. I’m a recreational runner, so I like your blog because I learn something, but it also doesn’t go right over my head. It’s not overwhelming (although I’m constantly in awe of your times!)

    I allllways like knowing what people eat, so keep sharing that. More easy recipes with few ingredients would be good. I remember one time you mentioned the pretzel/Rolos snack on your blog. I tried it and it’s been a HUGE hit at many parties! 🙂

  • Looks like a yummy dinner!!! I tried a variation of your mac and cheese recipe and it was great! Thank you!

  • Hope you enjoy the taper! It’s always an interesting mental and physical time for me. I’m new to your blog so I’m not sure what you’ve covered and what you haven’t, but it was interesting to hear that running was also a big part of your social life. For me, running is much more independent, so I am sometimes feeling like it’s interfering with my social life (because as you know, training is super time consuming). I really want to increase my mileage for my next marathon in April, but I don’t know if I can do it and still spend time with the people in my life and do other things I want to do.

  • want. this. sandwich. now.

    just want to echo what everyone is saying about how wonderful your posts have been recently – of course knowing you in person makes me want to read, but as someone who isn’t ever going to need intense running advice, it’s still a joy to read your passion for the sport and for living a happy twentysomething life.

    whoa, sentimentality.

    wait, i have one more thought. i think this is a healthy living blog. you eat real food and are dedicated to excelling in a healthy sport. in the meantime, you enjoy your life, which includes beer and butter right along with csa vegetables. that sounds like health and living to me.

  • As a new-found grilled cheese addict, I am totally adding some pear to mine the next time I make it! YUM.

    Love this and all of your recent posts exploring various aspects of running and how they fit into your life. Besides the bajillion questions I ask you about training/racing during our runs (to which you answer with great advice!), I love all the tips and tricks you share on the blog. I never get sick of reading (or talking) about running 🙂

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