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Taper Confessions

I have used this marathon training cycle as an excuse to give up on all forms of strength training. I know this is dumb and I really have no excuse (other than laziness, that is). Not only does regular strength training help running, but I’m not even running enough miles per week to justify cutting it out.

These days, the only type of upper body strength exercises I’m doing is carrying my handheld water bottle on long runs (same thing, right…?).


To make up for my pancake flat run last week, for this week’s long run I chose one of the hilliest routes by my house. Just for comparison, last week I started out at 3 feet above sea level and climbed a grand total of 107 feet over the course of 20ish miles. This week I started around 840 feet and climbed 1,236 feet over the course of 14.5 miles.

Second 15ish miles of my run in Florida (I re-started the watch after the first 5.5). Those tiny peaks are bridges…

Florida 20  last 15

vs….. 14.5 miles in Vermont.

Elevation 14 5 miles

On the bright side, it also meant I got to run down over 1,000 feet. Can’t complain about that!

And although those hills seemed to grow in my absence, I stand by what I said before — hills and cool air over flat and humidity any day! Maybe it’s because I’m finally getting used to this particular type of torture. More likely, it’s because the entire run was perfect. High 50s, a mix of sun and clouds, country roads, mountain views, falling leaves…in short, my running paradise.

Alysons Orchard_1Okay, so this isn’t really from my run. But it’s fall in New England…and I like it.

In the past, my love for running and my love for training have always gone hand-in-hand. If one was down, the other would be too. These days, however, my love for running far outweighs my love for actual training. My love for running increased dramatically after the knee injury. My love for training – not so much. Maybe it was too much, too soon. Maybe I’m just burned out on marathons. Regardless, it’s made me re-evaluate many of my running goals for 2013.

Related: I have dreaded my long runs this marathon training cycle. This one is especially tough to admit, since long runs are the building blocks of training. And if you hate doing them, why train for a marathon (great question)?? Unfortunately, for the past several months most of my long runs have been really tough — physically and mentally. Until yesterday’s. It was (by far!) the best long run I’ve had during my entire time of training. I ran completely by feel and felt so strong the entire way. Where has this girl been for the past few months? It was almost enough to make me fall in love with marathons again…almost.

Whenever I hear anything about the hills in the New York City Marathon, there’s this tiny snotty voice in the back of my mind that scoffs and says: “clearly they don’t train in Vermont!” Obviously I have no right to feel this way…seeing as I’ve only lived here for a few months and am still not very good at running up those things. I have a feeling I’m going to regret this attitude in a few weeks. So yes, you all can laugh at me and roll your eyes when I complain about how long the climb up the Queensboro bridge felt…or the endless seeming hills through Central Park. Everything feels harder during a marathon.

This past weekend, the Conkey men invaded Vermont for “Horror Movie Weekend.” We basically did nothing but watch scary movies (including the new Paranormal Activity 4 – go see it!!) for 3 days straight. Which means I’ve gotten about 0 hours of sleep ever since. Not exactly the best preparation for a long run.

Conkeys_horror movie weekend

But one benefit of being unemployed: there’s no real pressure to fit in a long run over the weekend if the timing doesn’t work out (or if I’m sleep deprived). Yesterday I ran 14.5 miles on a Monday afternoon, just because I could. And it was amazing.

I am convinced that one of our cats has made it his mission in life to suffocate me during the night. I can’t even tell you how many times in the past couple of weeks I’ve woken up to find him lying on my chest (combine that with the horror movie fest above, and you can see why I’ve gotten no sleep lately). When he’s not on my chest, he has taken to sleeping in other super uncomfortable, inconvenient positions.

IMG 1703This is no tiny cat, either…

I hate ice baths. Hate them. Outside of the torture I received in those metal tubs in the trainer’s office during college, I’ve taken maybe 2 ice baths in my entire running career. I can’t say that this is necessarily the best strategy, and I know some of you swear by them. But now that the temperature is dropping, the last thing I want to do after a run is sit in a tub for 20 minutes while freezing and wet. I much prefer recovery methods that involve dry clothes and warmth.

Luckily I get to try out a new type of recovery aid this time around. I’ve had e-stim in the past with great results, but I haven’t actually used the Compex unit enough to be able to say for sure whether it makes a big difference (stay tuned). But I do know that I’ll take twitching muscles over freezing baths any day.

compex procompressionCompex e-stim + Pro Compression + liquid carbs = recovery perfection

I haven’t actually thought much about how it’s going to feel to run Ragnar less than a week after completing NYCM. I mean…I know it’s happening. I just haven’t really let it all sink in. At this point I’m thinking denial is the way to go. I won’t let my legs think about the fact that they have to race again so soon after the marathon until I arrive in Vegas.

I think it is impossible to go into a big race without any goals whatsoever. That being said, my goals for NYCM are more in terms of “Priority A,” “Priority B,” etc, instead of being related to any specific times. 

Although I am excited to run the New York City Marathon, I have to admit that I’m even more excited for the pre/post-race festivities: a sleepover with Emily and Ali and a mini reunion with some of my teammates from HTC. Those things alone are worth going to NYC for.


On that note: Does anyone have any great New York City Marathon posts to share? I want to read about it and get myself pumped up! And if you are running the marathon, you should read this post: Why the New York Marathon Is the Best Marathon in the World. While I can’t really support her claim yet (and not sure if I ever will…Boston has such a big place in my heart), it’s the perfect post to get you excited about NYCM.

22 Responses to Taper Confessions

  1. Love Love Love the Harpoon Octoberfest in the background! Best of luck in the marathon!

  2. nice article,
    Being unemployed, temp. employed, plain down and out I understand having time on my hands. We always want to train hard, something gets in the way. one person on ‘Dailymile’ said it best,” If I was home with all that time, I’d train.”
    It was not directed at me, but I took it to heart.
    I was at work last year and i thought, what a waste, I spent to few miles on my feet, and too much time on the weights. now, I goy laid off (again) and cancealed the gym membership.My miles are increasing! My aches and pains are disapearing. I chose to up the miles, and now what I thought was long, is nothing. What I thought I could not do is being done. I’ll be off of work for another several months. Without the creature comforts I enjoyed, I am becoming a runner, a better runner! You can take my job, but my work continues.. What I gave to employers, I give to me. i am stronger for having less.

  3. Try to enjoy taper, it wasn’t too bad for me but I definitely am feeling antsy right now without a plan!

    Your cat is hilarious, ours both sleep near me and one of them is usually on my pillow taking up more room than me!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman´s last post ..Spectating the Niagara Falls International Marathon

  4. Haha I know what you mean about hills. I ran the Baltimore Marathon this month and everyone was telling me about how intense the hills were…but here in Central VA, it’s much hillier, so the course wasn’t EASY per se, but I didn’t feel it was as scary, to say the least :)

    Keep rocking the cycle, Lauren 😀
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..A Running PSA

  5. Sorry, no NYCM stories. Haven’t run it. I did just finish a marathon a few days ago, however, and thinking about racing in less than a week sort of makes me laugh. I mean, I’m having trouble carrying my toddler down the stairs. That’s just me though. Good luck with the tapering! It’s the toughest part in some ways…
    Katie´s last post ..BayState Marathon = 3:11:53 :)

  6. Trust me, those NYC hills are nothing. I went to college I’m Vermont, which is where I started running and compared to that, even the infamous Harlem hill is nothing. And I used to run to work via the Queensboro all the time and it wasn’t a big deal, just a bit long. Although I imagine they’ll all seem like giants once you’ve got 20+ miles on your legs! You’ll do great.

  7. Oh man, San Francisco running has made me SUCH a hill snob…even though I have spent the past four years living on one of the flattest routes in the city. But I could go run up hills. BIG ones. If I wanted to.
    Kimra´s last post ..The Recovery

  8. Whenever someone complains about the hills in the nycm I think “those are nothing compared to the sf marathon.” I’m such a snob.

    I want to meet you when you are here!

  9. Hooray NYC! This post is probably one of my favorites, and I reread it all the time…confirming that I indeed read my blog way more than anyone else: http://www.susanruns.com/2011/11/03/aint-nothing-as-sweet-as-the-sound-of-a-crowd/

    annnnd race report: http://www.susanruns.com/2011/11/08/2011-new-york-city-marathon-race-report/

    Looking at the hill profile, I didn’t think the hills would be that bad. Queensboro was fine, just long. The hills later in the race just seem bad because they come later in the race…you know, when the tiniest of hills start to hurt.

    I’m so excited to cheer, let me know what your schedule is like for when you’re here! I live close to Ali, hooray.
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..a day in the life: build week

  10. Oooohhh!! I will be checking out the above mentioned NYC race reports! Thanks for posting this! I am SO ready for the taper process… :-)
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..A scary run- what was I thinking?

  11. All hills kick my butt – training flat and sea level is pretty much terrible for runners. Sigh.
    I hope NYCM is a fantastic experience for you and I bet you can make short work of those hills!
    Gracie (Complicated Day)´s last post ..Runners to watch

  12. I NEVER do any strength training and I feel slightly guilty about that. My back ached during my run this morning, made me think I should do something about it. And all hills feel bad during a marathon (says the girl who’s only done one in pancake flat London). But you’ll notice them on the day. I’m SO excited about NCY for you…I really wish I was running it too.
    Cathryn Ramsden´s last post ..The pros and cons of a running mini-break!

  13. I might be the only one to EVER say this, but I didn’t really notice the hills in the NYC Marathon. There were a couple that I felt, but they didn’t compare to what I THOUGHT they would be! You’ll be fine I’m sure!

    Here’s my recap post if you’re interested :)

    Kara´s last post ..Philly On My Mind

    • So glad you said that. It actually makes me feel A LOT better! Thanks for linking to your recap. I’m excited to read it!

  14. Hot bath with epsom salts instead of ice bath. I used to swear by the ice. No more.
    XLMIC´s last post ..Darth Vader drives a minivan

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