I’m in taper mode and one thing I’ve been emphasizing during this training cycle more than any other is REST. This is all thanks to my coach Maria who is very good at reining me in. One more little piece of encouragement I can put into my bucket and take with me into the race is that I will be more rested than I ever have been before any race. Ever.
The Sunday before last, I ran 19.5 miles on a very hilly route. That afternoon, my legs were achy and I was tired. It was almost like I’d run a marathon. The next day was a rest day and my legs were still heavy. I did 30 minutes of VERY easy yoga in the evening, continued to chug BCAAs and tried to get to bed early. Tuesday morning in Pilates I felt ok but my legs were sore. I tried to keep it easy on the leg exercises (and even requested the teacher focus on arms and core instead!). At lunch, I went for my 45 minute Zone 2 run and I could tell I was not even close to done recovering from that beastly run. My legs were heavy and sore and my heart rate was much higher compared to my pace than it was last week. During that run I decided I’d ask Maria if we could switch out my speed workout scheduled for Wednesday morning to Thursday instead (I couldn’t push it to the evening because I had dinner plans with friends). I was actually really looking forward to the workout since I had been doing the majority of my speedwork on hills and the workout scheduled was 5 x 1 mile repeats. I wanted to see what I had under the hood on flat ground.
Maria, being the smart coach she is, told me that unfortunately I would not be able to move the workout to Thursday. Instead, I wasn’t allowed to even do the workout! She said I was clearly not recovered from the long run and doing the speedwork would just put me further in the hole. We are too close to the marathon for that and she wanted me to be fresh for Sunday’s 12 mile run with 5 miles at race pace or faster. So instead of doing speed work on Wednesday, I took my second rest day of the week. This is NOT something I would have done on my own. When I coach myself, I always push myself to do MORE. It is nice having someone tell me it’s ok to do less. After a good night’s sleep and my rest day Wednesday I actually felt much better and Maria allowed me to do a 45 minute tempo run (25 minutes at tempo pace), which went well and boosted my confidence. In exchange for allowing me to do so, I had to take ANOTHER rest day on Friday. 3 REST DAYS IN ONE WEEK. Unheard of. I typically rest 0-1 day a week unless I’m out of town for some reason so this was an adjustment for me. Saturday I did an easy spin and Sunday I absolutely nailed my long run with tempo portion. Maria told me that my run on Sunday was excellent (efficiency number higher than ever, even better than the 10k and half marathon races!) and that it showed serious promise for a strong finish in Phoenix.
The moral of the story is – sometimes NOT training will make you stronger than training. Because I listened to my body and rested Wednesday and Friday, I was able to execute fantastic workouts on Thursday and Sunday. Being rested and strong for those two workouts was much more beneficial than additional miles throughout the week. Not to mention, the confidence I’ve gained from executing these runs correctly is way better than the confidence I’d get from some bonus mileage over the week. Or worse, had I pushed through the mile repeats my performance would have been less than stellar, which at this point would be a mental beating. My mind needs reassurance that I’m ready for the race, and not hitting my pace goals during key workouts one week out would definitely not be encouraging. Not to mention, those three days of rest allowed me to catch up on much needed sleep to help my body recover.
I continued the rest with another (planned) rest day yesterday. I also had the day off of work thanks to the President’s Day holiday and Mike and I slept in, went out for lunch, lounged around, watched 4 episodes of the final season of Breaking Bad (which is the opposite of relaxing actually –OMG), and met up with friends for pizza and beer (and the official last alcoholic beverage I’ll be drinking before the race). I could get used to this rest thing.