Abusing the Taper

Wanna know how I know I’m not a “real” runner? Because my legs aren’t aching to run 18 miles a day during taper weeks. In fact, my legs are perfectly content laying in bed while my eyes read a book. Perfectly content.

My Marine Corps Marathon training program has me building up miles and tapering back down a few times for the next couple of months. This week was a taper week, so all I had on the schedule were two 5-milers on Tuesday and Thursday. I totally abused the privilege and used this taper week as an “easy” week. In reality, I should have been gearing up for a 20-miler this weekend, but I have absolutely zero intentions of actually completing that. Instead, I used my taper week to goof off. I ditched my 6-miler (because “missing a 6-mile run isn’t going to set me back” <- WRONG!) last weekend and, instead, made up for it in the number of beers I drank. I was too tired lazy to do my 5-miler on Tuesday and instead made up for it on Wednesday.

With all of these factors, I ended up taking 5 whole days off from running and my body hates me for it. My legs felt heavy and were dragging during both of my short 5 mile runs this week. It’s amazing how quickly I lost leg strength and it’s no one’s fault but my own. Instead of totally disregarding my 20-miles this weekend (like I want to), I plan to split it up over two days – running 10 miles on Friday, and 10 on Monday. I’m worried about getting hurt if I try to do 20 all at once without rest because I know my body isn’t strong enough. Remember my plantar fasciitis? It’s back and it’s giving me some pain. I don’t want to overdo it too early and risk injury. But at the same time, I need to get my butt in gear. No more slacking.

In summary, I took too much time off; my legs want to fall off; I’m an idiot.

Glad that’s out of the way. Instead of running, I used this week to catch up on my social life! I got dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile (and ate a pound of queso), I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, I got to meet the adorable Kyle,

Gratuitous picture for your viewing pleasure

I was finally victorious in my battle against my fingernails,

Check out that paint job. First try, BITCHES!

and the biggest factor taking up 90% of my time this week?

(Source)

As fun as Shark Week sounds, when you actually work for Discovery it takes on a whole new meaning. That meaning = logical nightmares, last second schedule changes, fibers to air, you know the drill. Or maybe you don’t. Either way, enjoy your Shark Week because a lot of people worked REALLY hard to make it happen!

What’s your favorite part about SHARK WEEK?

Mine is Chompy, the massive shark that they hang on Discovery HQ.

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Marathon vs Social Life

Finding time to train for a marathon is tough. I don’t know about you, but I am by no means running at Olympic speeds here, so when I have an 18 mile run on my docket, I need to portion out a solid half-day to knock it out. All of my long runs tend to fall on weekends which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I don’t have to worry about it interfering with work, but a curse in that most of my family and closest friends live out of town. Since I am traveling almost every weekend, finding time to fit in my long runs has proven to be challenging.

You read A LOT about my social life on here, because I love doing fun things. If I don’t have plans, I tend to go stir crazy! Yet, I still need to run if I want to make it through my 26.2 in October without keeling over. Finding a balance between fun and serious training is difficult, but necessary.

Here some tips that I have implemented to ensure that I’m still training even on weekends where I am busy having fun:

Get a GPS Watch

I debated buying a GPS watch for years and years. I am SO glad that I finally have. A GPS watch is absolutely necessary for anyone who loves to both run and travel. I can literally run in any city now! I love that this watch tells me how far I’ve gone since I have to hit certain mile markers for each of my long runs. For example, I recently used this watch while at the beach. It’s so refreshing to run on the beach in the morning before it burns off. All I had to do was turn on my watch, run until I hit half of my distance, then turn around and run back to my hotel. Perfect!

Pack Your Running Shoes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually a really helpful tip. If I bring my running shoes with me, I am more likely to go for a run (instead of having that last cocktail) just because I went through the effort to pack them in the first place. I hate wasting space in my bag, so I better use them if I brought them. Simple, but effective!

Plan Ahead

I love to be spontaneous. Really, I do! But, training for a marathon makes that tough. Making last minute plans is something I’m willing to give up (until October) for my own sanity. These days, I need to have my days planned out far in advance to make sure I fit everything in. I generally try to not make plans to go out the night before a long run, drinking + no sleep + 16 miles on the schedule = not happening. I can’t do it all!

Fuel Correctly

(Source)

Everyone always talks about how important it is to fuel your body correctly the night before a big race, but what about fueling correctly the night before a long run? It is just as important to eat the right foods during training as it is on the big day, so I try to be very careful to eat well(-ish) before all runs. Have you ever eaten a huge burger and fries the night before a 12 mile morning run? No? Well, take my word for it…that thing will sit in your stomach like a pound of bricks and you will NOT be comfortable. Avoid greasy, heavy foods and alcohol before long runs. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t Eat Back All Your Calories

In addition to my last point about fuel, it’s important to avoid eating back all the calories you just burned…PLUS some!. This is something I have always struggled with, and is a common issue for many marathon runners. The mentality becomes, “Well, I just ran 15 miles, so I can eat WHATEVER I WANT TODAY!” Not true. I love to go out to eat, especially when I’m traveling and visiting my friends in different cities. Running gives me an excuse to order the least healthy (but most delicious) thing on the menu. Try to resist!

Remember to Have FUN!

Don’t get so sucked into marathon training that you don’t have a social life at all. Go out with friends, travel, visit new places, try new foods, and enjoy life! When I’m visiting friends, I try to get them in on the action too. Even if they are only willing to run 3 miles with me, that’s better than nothing. It’s always more fun to run with friends than by yourself! And you know what, enjoy that occasional margarita and don’t feel bad about it. Chances are…you’ve earned it!

How do YOU balance fitness goals with your social life?

Super Sweaty

Big news everyone! On Saturday morning I woke up at 6:06am WITHOUT an alarm…and didn’t even go back to sleep! Who says I can’t be a morning person? Oh, wait, I did. Anyway, I’m thankful that something in my body triggered me awake because I totally misset my alarm on Friday night. I was trying to wake up at 6am to knock out 12 miles before the predicted 105 degree temperatures set in. And guess what, I did.

This was quite possibly the slowest/worst run of my entire life. I had every intention of running this 12 miles for time, but right around mile 2 I realized that it was going to be a struggle for survival. The heat and humidity, even at 6am, made it hard to even breath. Around mile 4 I began to feel sharp twinges in my back and at mile 5-6, I was convinced my ankle was going to fall off. This happens on occasion and I think it’s a result of the numerous times I sprained and partially tore ligaments in my ankles when I played soccer and basketball.

I stopped back at my apartment after the 6 mile mark to regroup myself, filled up a water bottle and then continued on for the final 6 miles of torture. I listened to my body cues and took it easy. My back pain disappeared and when I was stretching my ankles, I felt something pop into place so that didn’t give me any further problems. Miles 7-9 were…pleasant, if you can even believe that. I knew the final 3 would be tough because the temperatures were rising RAPIDLY. And I could feel it.

EFF YOU HEAT!

Once I hit my turnaround point at mile 9, I knew I had only 2 options. Either: 1) be airlifted back to my apartment, OR 2) run back. I opted for the latter choice as I thought renting a helicopter may put a huge dent in my bank account. Maybe next time. As expected, the last 3 miles SUCKED. I walked up 2 big hills because I thought my legs would straight-up give out if I tried to run them, ouch.

Wednesday’s sweaty 8 miler was child’s play compared to Saturday’s 12 miler. I’m mildly convinced that by the end, I was running dangerously close to having 0% water left in my body. I’m typically a light/moderate sweater, so you KNOW it was a hot/rough run when I look like this at the end:

Ignore that smile on my face, I was actually anything but happy at the time (it’s all an illusion) and there literally wasn’t a dry spot on my quick-dry t-shirt. So sexy, I know. Come and get it, boys!

Anyway, 12 miles is 12 miles no matter how rough. I’m glad to have that one under my belt since (I hope) it won’t be as hot and humid on marathon day in October. Summer training is stupid.

After my 2+ hours of torture, I headed up north to visit my parents and stuff my face with ice cream and mead. Typical. We did a tour de Maryland of sorts. Our first stop was an ice creamery that my brother heard of while visiting a farmer’s market in Baltimore. It’s called South Mountain Creamery and they are the #1 stop (of 7) on the Maryland Ice Cream tour. This place was on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, but the homemade ice cream was…not to get all 90’s on you, but…DA BOMB! I had the Moo Tracks, which was a rich chocolate with peanut butter cups and real peanuts. Om nom!

Next stop was to Orchid Cellar, or more commonly known as The Place My Family Learned About MEAD! We went taste testing and learned a ton about the process of making mead. I ended up buying 2 bottles to take home with me.

Now I’m just gearing up for the week ahead. I hear that the temps are supposed to cool off into the 80’s. I can handle that! Plus, I have a ton of miles to run and lots to do before I leave for the beach next week with my family. Can’t wait!

How did you beat the heat this weekend?

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