The week before a race is a long time. Well, not really, time doesn’t change obviously but my perspective of it does in the week leading up to a running race. Three consecutive weeks of hard training has meant race or no race, this 4th week should be a little lighter in terms of running volume to allow my body to recover and absorb some of the training. Instead of running twice a day I’ve only been heading out once which has left me with at least an extra hour or so to relax in the afternoon or morning instead of going out for a run. I’ve also gained time and mental capacity by not having to think too hard about structuring my day. Life’s a lot simpler when you only run once a day.
Taking the place of that second run planning time in my mental space has been various thoughts from; ‘ah jeez, I’m really tired this week, I wonder if I’ll sharpen up quick enough’, ‘my groin hurts a bit, will it back off or have I overcooked it’, ‘far out that climbing wall looks good, it’d be fun to climb on it and keep tinkering with it…’. Usually, I’d be able to deal with managing these brainwaves whilst plodding along on the second run of the day, but when there is no second run of the day I’m dealing with these thoughts from the couch and it’s a lot harder to resist the urge to let self-doubt and negativity enter in. Unpacking each one a little closer we get:
- Being really tired. When you’re driving a car really fast for a really long time and the music is up loud you’re probably having a great time. Until you slow down, pull into the servo and hear a weird whining noise that may or not have been there the whole time. That’s what a rest/taper week feels like a bit. I’ve been fanging it for a few weeks, having a great time and then I take the accelerator off for a smidge and bam, the body senses this and goes, ‘shit yeah, he’s resting up, we can pull up stumps here and reset everything’. For me, I start to feel a bit zombie like and even simple things like going to the shops or the hardware store are big outings. I know the difference between well rested-hyped up Fraser where I’m bouncing around, and this zombie-Fraser where I am drifting through time and space whilst my insides (I’m talking hormones, enzymes, micro-biomes etc.) all get a chance to reset. I kind of like feeling this tired because it means I’ve trained hard and I like having an excuse to watch more French Open tennis and play a bit of Super Nintendo but at the same time, it does scare me a bit to wonder if I rest too much will I lose some fitness? To not let myself get too scared about losing fitness from not running twice a day I read lots of articles about why tapering is important to convince myself its the right thing and also try and visualise myself as the little iPhone battery symbol. You know what I’m talking about, you look at that little battery symbol getting low and you really want to keep using it at 1% but you really should just go and plug it in to charge up… yeah that’s me at the moment.
- My groin hurts. Every runner or athlete has niggles from time to time. Race week makes every person hyper aware about their body, more so than normal (athletes stretch every day so they can immediately tell when something is tighter or looser than normal). For me this week I had a little bit of groin pain flare up and it did have me pretty concerned. For about 12 hrs I was pretty worried I’d overcooked it so all I thought about was light walking and some stretching until it improved while I tried to work out why it hurt. My theory was that the very heavy lifting I did erecting my climbing wall was the one variable I changed in my training last week so it was possibly the straw that broke my groin. Any who, besides being smart enough to not make that mistake again, it doesn’t really matter how I got the niggle, but more importantly what can I do to treat the niggle. Lots of rest, stretching, no heavy lifting and good nutrition are the basic forms of treatment for any thing. I also ensured I let my leg lie straight as much as possible so it would relax and feel like it’s at the beach on holidays and unwind a bit. After a full 24hrs of doing this it feels like forever. I went for a little jog to test it out to try and shake off the negative thought spiral in my head that my groin is cooked and I’m dead. Thirty minutes of light running and I felt normal. What was I worried about? I’m fine! Not quite to be honest, it’s still a little tight and I could feel it in some stride throughs yesterday but importantly I now believe I have waded across the deepest part of the river and am almost reached the other side where I’m recovered.
- Look at the climbing wall I built! As I alluded to earlier, I have erected and finished Stage 1 of my climbing wall this week. This was one of the outputs I mentioned last week I was aiming to achieve in the next month so I was pretty happy to get it done. Allow me three sentences to indulge myself on why I was so proud of building this (or skip over them). I spent a lot of my childhood helping my Dad build stuff on weekends and this is the biggest and most useful thing I’ve built on my own and made me appreciate how good my Dad is at building stuff. One of the reasons I wanted my own house was so I could have an awesome shed/training space, similar to this one, and now I’ve got something like that. I had been scheming about where the wall would go, where to get the materials from, the design etc. for a bloody long time so to have something built that I don’t have to plan/design anymore is a big mental relief as well.
That’s enough digressing. Having finished the main part of the wall with it being up and everything I could spend the extra time in my week climbing on it and getting tired in a different way. But that’s not what the taper week is for. It’s a time to rest and that’s it. So instead of climbing the wall, I sat on a deck chair and just looked at the wall instead. Imagine walking into my shed this week and just seeing me sitting there staring at a 40 degree inclined wall. Pretty weird I know, but if you replace the wall with a TV it becomes very normal, how weird’s that! Another comforting fact I had come up with to ease the pain of not climbing on the wall and choosing to rest instead was that I’d waited a long time to build the wall so I could wait a little longer too to climb on it I reckon…
It’s now the Friday before race day and all my resting is just about done. My battery symbol would be showing around 80-90% and besides a little jog this morning, there’s not much left to do. I’ll try to keep things pretty simple tomorrow with my only aims being to; practice more race nutrition strategies, get familiar with the marathon distance again and enjoy the moment when the race becomes hard whenever that may be (hopefully not too early…). It’s time to unplug and see how I measure up! Live results should be available at this link: https://my.raceresult.com/202495/