WITH ONE WEEK TO GO BEFORE CHICAGO, I am officially in tapering mode, reducing effort so I can save up energy for the big event. As my coach explains it, the last couple of weeks before a marathon are about staying in condition, holding gains made during training. Pushing harder or farther right now would only increase my chances of getting hurt. So my assigned distance was only 12 miles as our group headed out for a blustery run Saturday morning.
For much of the summer I have been running 16 to 20 miles on Saturdays, so it felt odd to turn back well before the route’s halfway point as others continued ahead. But I had been clipping along at a fairly fast pace, and I looked forward to a (relatively) easy run back to the store. And some other runners were also turning around with me, so I wouldn’t be finishing the run solo.
Shortly, however, it appeared that both my assumptions would be derailed. The other runners were more seasoned (re: faster) than me, and that combined with a hilly route meant I was tiring quickly and unable to keep pace. I struggled along and managed to catch up with them at the next water stop, but of course they were back running before I could do more than take a quick drink. I checked my watch: three and a half miles to go. What the hell. I sped up and caught up to them again.
Something about being with a group usually energizes me late in a run, and even though I was now running faster, I caught a second wind and was able to stay with them until I broke off to complete my distance (they were going 14 miles). As soon as I did so, I got tired and sore again. I’m sure much of this is purely mental, and like many new experiences I’ve had this year, it’s something I will learn from and, hopefully, improve.
So was my run truly in the spirit of tapering? Probably not. But it was within my capabilities, and I will be careful with my workouts this week. I promise, Coach.