Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tapering, Preparing, and Snacking

Happy Hump Day once again! Has it really been a week since my last post?

I've realized that lately ALL I am talking about is the I've been hitting little road blocks when it comes to new topics here. I am so thankful for my boyfriend, friends, and family who have humored me while I go on and on and on about the race. The anticipation has a hold of me. I've been talking about the race so much that I just don't know what I'll have to talk about when it's all over. I guess 8 solid months of training (if you count from when I started training for the 1/2 marathon in October) will do that to a girl.

So I'm sure you'll be super shocked right now when I talk a little about tapering. It is scary.

I began tapering my runs for the marathon after my last long training run of 26.2 miles 3 weeks ago. It was slow at first, with a 15 mile run two weeks ago and a 10 mile run this weekend. But now that we're in the home stretch, I'm really feeling some anxiety from not having another long run before the race. I basically have 4 more runs until the race. 6 miles tomorrow, 8 on Sunday, then a very relaxed 3 and 3 next Tuesday and Thursday. If my nerves get the best of me, I'll go for a very slow 2 miles on the Saturday before.

A friend and fellow marathoner told me yesterday that "your legs won't forget how to run," and she reminded me that my legs need this time to heal. I know she's right, but I am still worried. I worry about my nervous system and its ability to handle the pain when the miles get long. I worry about running a lot of the race alone (ok, there will be thousands of others out there with me, but no buddy to pass the time with by talking about recipes, boyfriends, and vacations). I worry about not meeting my time goal. I worry about disappointing my family and best friend who are all traveling more than 6 hours to see me. I worry mostly about disappointing myself.

My conclusions thus far are this: 1. I'm a huge worry wart, 2. I will probably have nervous stomach flutters for the next two weeks. 3. Tapering - or having to run less - is scary, 3. I have little control from this point forward of how race day will go, so I need to trust the tapering method and see how it goes.

I'm as prepared as I can possibly be. My outfit is set (aside from what that day's temperatures will dictate). I'm stocked with Gus. I've studied the course. I know exactly where I will take water breaks and see my supporters. I know my pace. I've even planned for some special dietary requirements for some of my special guests. I'm ready for this day to be here.

But there are other things I mean when I say "Preparing." Marathon training has captured much of my attention for months now. It's quite time consuming. I realize that some of this time will free up after the race, but I still plan to keep pushing pretty hard in the gym and on the pavement. I'll set some new fitness goals.

That begs the question - when will I have time to study? I start my classes to become a health coach mid-March. I'm excited to learn so many new things about the foods we eat...but I'm honestly feeling a little overwhelmed. On my current schedule I wake up around 4:20 am and don't slow down until dinner is on the table (and by table I mean coffee table in front of the TV) around 7pm. Mike and I eat like we're starving then go to bed by 8. An exciting life, I know.

I actually really love this schedule. Nothing makes the day feel better than getting up early and getting a good sweat on before most people you know have heard their first alarm. I love getting to work before the sun comes up and leaving early - while most of my co-workers are still drowning in work. And I love, love, love sneaking under the covers early in the evening and passing out knowing I can still get 7-8 hours of sleep before I do it all over again.

I don't drink caffeine, and I don't stay up late. So when, exactly, am I going to find time to take courses, write papers, and study for tests??? I know plenty of people do this. I am sure I will find a way. But I want to prepare for this. I am not sure how to prepare besides doing some extra reading and trying to get my body used to 7 hours of sleep instead of 7-8. Certainly, introducing unhealthy practices like drinking coffee and getting too little sleep seems counter intuitive to a health and nutrition program.

Lastly, snacking. I've talked before about how I love my trainer and how she really kicks my booty. She reads my daily food log and often provides suggestions when I go astray. Monday was a little different. Monday she gave me the swift kick in the pants not on the gym floor but in my food log. To be honest, I've been slacking - especially on weekends. This weekend there was a Saturday night delivery from Pizza Hut that I'm embarrassed to even talk about. And the sweets...they've crept back in.

My trainer was appalled at some of my food choices over the weekend, and she let me know it. She wasn't rude or judgmental, but she was firm and concerned. She asked me, again, if I still wanted to meet my weight goal (to which I've been in a plateau since last July), and let me know that in order for that to be possible my diet would have to change.

She reminded me about sugar. To my surprise, she did not use the cookies or frozen yogurt in my log as an example, but rather the whole wheat Ritz crackers that I used with smoked salmon as a snack. She said I have to start thinking about those things as sugar, because once they're in your system they turn to sugar regardless of what the label says. Sugar is addictive. I wouldn't touch addictive drugs with a ten foot why would I let a sugar addiction run my life? My trainer reminded me again that every time I eat sugar (or a highly processed carb like Ritz crackers that turns to sugar in the body) I am prolonging the addiction, that I will crave more, and that I will delay the process of getting it out of my system and getting that number on the scale to my goal.

She struck a chord. I was/am mad at myself for my poor choices and continuous slip backs. I know it's only Wednesday and the temptation of the weekend is still ahead, but I feel like something is different this time.

I've been snacking on healthy things several times a day for the past few days. I eat a normal size dinner...but still need to work on getting my dinners a little lower in calories and carbs (My trainer recommends never eating more than 400 calories in one sitting). And I've gone to bed knowing that she will be proud of the food log entry she sees for that day - and I'm proud too.

This morning it was an extra small organic banana mashed up with 2 tablespoons of PB2, like I did here. For lunch I have 2 cups of strawberries and blueberries (organic and delicious, thank you Florida!) and some leftover roasted veggies from last night. Dinner is still TBD, but I know it will need to be heavy on protein since my snacks here at work are mostly fruits and veggies.

What difficulties did you experience when tapering runs for a race or other competition?

Do you find it difficult to take rest days?

Have you taken classes while working full time? How did you make it work? 

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?


  1. First, know that NO MATTER what happens race day, we are going to be incredibly proud of your accomplishment and the miles and miles you have traveled so far. We know that you are going to KICK BOOTY on race day and blow all of us away. And more importantly, run the race for you, not for us. We are the couch potatoes coming to watch your awesome accomplishment. You are already so amazing to all of us!

    Second, your trainer is right about the sugar but are you sure you are eating enough and remember the amount of calories you are burning with ALL of that running and gym time. I know the balance is VERY hard to find and everyone will tell you something different. Also remember that you have to enjoy life a little?

    1. Hi Sara! You're right too...I definitely need to enjoy life a little. A little is the key here. I tend to go to extremes with sweets from time to time, and I need to scale that back. I'm not talking about one piece of pizza or one cupcake, I'm talking a day's worth of calories in one indulgent meal. Thank goodness this is only an occasional weekend meal, otherwise I would me undoing (not just stagnating) my workout efforts.

      My trainer has challenged me to limiting myself to 2 sweet treats a week. She did not limit what those treats could be, I just need to use my own go for 1 cupcake, not 3 pieces of cake.

  2. PS- cannot wait for race day!!! I've got butterflies too :)

    1. ME TOO!!!! I'm SO glad you will be there!