After months of training for and dreaming about the Rock n’ Roll USA Marathon, it is finally so close that I can taste it. My heart is full of excitement, anticipation, nervous energy, gratitude and hope.
I’m feeling good.
I’ve done all the work. I’ve trained hard and I’ve trained smart – nailing my paces, sharpening my mental game, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for me to perform at my best. I’ve gutted it out through powerful winds, freezing rain and even 20 miles on a treadmill. I’ve put in the time and the miles each and every week, at the track, on the trails and in the gym.
Now is the time to rest up, so I can make all this hard work COUNT on race day.
What do I mean by that? Well, every phase of a training cycle is important, and the taper is no exception to that. It’s SCIENCE. In order to make all that hard work we put into our training count on race day, we must honor the taper and take it seriously – as seriously as we would our peak mileage week, our toughest track workout or our longest run. Our muscles need to rest and recover – we don’t want to feel any soreness on race day (we will be feeling plenty of that once we cross the finish line!). Our glycogen stores need to be replenished and full so that we head into the race with energy reserves because we will need to use them – they will deplete quickly. Hydration this week is key – we do not want to risk starting the race feeling dehydrated and chugging water right before the race will do us no good. We need to REST and make sure we are sleeping enough all week (the night before the race will likely not be the best night’s sleep of our lives since we will be nervous and excited. Not only that but take the time to RELAX each day – to calm our minds as well as our bodies.
Calming my mind is perhaps the trickiest component for me during the taper period, as I feel so nervous and excited every single time I think about my race (which is, um, pretty much all the time these days!). The goal of a sub-3:40 and my first BQ has been at the forefront of my thinking throughout this training cycle but now as the race is only days away I’m realizing it is time for me to LET GO. It is time for me to relax my thinking and trust in my body’s ability to get the job done on race day. I have been re-reading a wonderful book (I last read it 12 years ago when I was training for my first marathon). It is called Running Within and is written by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott. It is one of my very favorite running books and I highly recommend it to runners of all levels.
This past week I have been focusing on the sections in the book that explore effective ways to relax your mind and body while racing. One of the pieces of advice that really speaks to me is to detach yourself from the outcome on race day. When I first read this a light bulb went on in my head. It was like the words just jumped out at me. It’s a little ironic that I’ve been so focused on my goal all season long but that come race day in order for me to perform at my best I will have to let go of this focus. If the race is going well and I start thinking about accomplishing my goal I could get too excited – I may pick up my pace too soon or get emotional and mess up my rhythm or my form. If I fall off my pace and it becomes apparent that I will not hit my goal, that could ruin my experience and make me feel completely miserable. I REFUSE to let that happen. So this week I am working on relaxing my mind, taking time to visualize myself on race day doing what I love best. Setting my body free to do what it is trained to do. Being in the moment and letting things happen. Trusting in my training, trusting in my body and believing in myself.
I am embracing the purpose of my taper this week. Butterflies are zipping and zooming around in my tummy and I can hardly think of anything other than Saturday morning, but I will take the time this week to relax my mind, rest my body, fuel and hydrate properly. Race day is almost here!!
|happy after my last long run before race day!|