Monday, June 11, 2012

Aches, relief, tapering, and my new running community

Two weeks to go until my next race. Yesterday was my last long run. I needed a bit of extra time to complete the run than I had hoped (about 90 seconds worth - so really no big deal), but I was noticeably tired. After the run yesterday, lower back pain. Today, the lower back pain has dulled to an ache. Tomorrow, the expectation of feeling much better. But I'll take an extra rest day.

I'm finding that this time around, I have little trouble with the idea of a taper or rest period for the couple weeks before the race. Perhaps the aches are helping ease my mind into believing it's ok to take an extra rest day, because, well frankly, I need it. And so the plan is to plan shorter runs going forward until race day. I'll do a couple more up-tempo workouts, but distance-wise, take it easy.

I suspect I didn't rest enough after the marathon. I certainly felt a sluggishness to my running for the first couple of weeks back. But I pushed through it not wanting to skip a beat in my training for this upcoming race. I kept reminding myself they say that you need a day of recovery for every mile in a race. But I simply didn't have time to wait 26 days before running hard again.  I had a race to train for. And my sanity would never have the patience for that either. Awareness of my recovery served only to help me forgive myself for feeling sluggish. But I didn't want to let it be an excuse.

Training has been awesome. I'm faster and stronger than ever. I think. I'm primed for a great race, whether or not it turns out to be a personal best. But I think I risked over-training, taking it as hard as I did while recovering from a marathon. So now I'm going to take care of myself and rest up. It's well overdue and two weeks until race day is the perfect time to do this.

The lower back hasn't been the only place for aches and pains. Since the marathon, my poor quad muscles that were in severe cramps for half the race have not been themselves. I'm confident they're stronger than ever, but I had to do some serious work on them to get the tightness out. I could have easily benefited from massage therapy after the race. Massage is highly recommended for endurance runners for recovery during training and certainly after a hard race. But I couldn't spare the time/resources to make this happen. Maybe that too was an error in judgment. 
In lieu of massage therapy, I purchased a Tiger Tail massage stick, which has worked absolute wonders in loosening up those tight muscles. A daily self-massage session while I'm relaxing watching TV is all it's taken. Don't know how I went so long without it! I've used it on my lower back today and it too feels a bit better for it. So I think I'll add that to my daily routine for the coming days anyway. 

Focus of the next two weeks: rest, relaxation, more self-massage, a few recovery jogs, maybe a track session, and likely an 8K race pace tune-up run. 

And I need to make a list of all the people I know who are running the race too, so I know who to look for and who to check-in with post-race on how they did and how much fun they had! I'm quite excited about this aspect of the race. My first ever half marathon race was this same race back in 2003, the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. At that time, I didn't really know any other runners, and did the race by myself. I drove myself to the start, ran the race, took a bus back to the car after, and done. A very anti-social experience; perhaps that's why it rained so much. But this time I'm so aware of this massive community of runners I'm part of and feel very fortunate to know so many people who've signed up for this very same race. I think I know about 15 people who are registered. I'm excited to take count! What's even better is that for several of them, they are running their first half marathon, and I'm so thrilled to have the opportunity to live that experience vicariously through them. It's a big deal. Can't wait to see many familiar faces at the finish and celebrate everyone's victory :)

Wishing everyone running this race with me a happy last 2 weeks until the race, and a restful taper period.


  1. I am so looking forward to finally meeting you! Perhaps before and/or after the race, if you can stick around by the finish that long!! My doubtful running gremlins are working overtime right now, questioning my training, my preparedness and this nasty cold I have right now is making it hard to stay "up tempo", never mind up tempo runs! Less than two weeks! Yikes! I can't wait to read your post race report but alas, I suppose I am getting ahead of myself already!

  2. What are you talking about? You're going to finish that race in really good time :) I'm making a list of all the people I want to see at the race. And believe me, meeting you is right at the top of my list! Tell the gremlins to take a hike. It's hard to do, yes, but there's nothing you can do now aside from rest and get over your cold. That's the most important thing - feeling rested after your hard work training. I'm taking it easy too and resting my sore back. My run tomorrow is still marked as a "maybe". As for my post-race report, I'd love to be able to include a write-up on YOU and your experience! What do you think?

  3. I'm game!! Also... I thought you might appreciate this: I just started playing soccer. When I was on the sidelines, I was thinking a lot about your blog posts about soccer & running and all that jazz. I realize you just retired your cleats, but who knows, maybe it was reading about your soccer/running reports that inspired me to give it a go or plant the seed in my head! Turns out, it was a ton of fun! ... and as it turns out, I wasn't so so bad for my first game & I actually made a couple decent passes! :) Just thought I would share!

  4. Awesome!!! I am not very good at soccer, but I did enjoy having the extra workout. Just don't overdo it - adjust your weekly running so you're not running too much (as soccer is ALL RUNNING!). And soccer can be dangerous too...I had a couple soccer-related injuries and just decided it wasn't the risk for me anymore, especially since I'm not very good at the sport, and my running races were way more important. But I'm sure you'll have much more success with it than I did! Some of us are just made for certain sports - perhaps this is one of your callings!