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We’ve Trained for This: The Coronavirus and Me

I may have forgotten to mention it: Did I tell you I’ve been training pretty hard for the past three months?

Training for a fifth marathon, you ask? A community 10K? A speedy half?

No, dear reader. I’ve been unknowingly training for a whole different kind of event: social distancing. And MAN, am I in shape.

For those of you who haven’t experienced it, the first few months of parenthood can be a downright solitary time. Sure, friends and family pop in for precisely timed 90-minute visits between feedings and naps, but until your newborn has his two-month immunizations, many pediatricians advise avoiding crowds of any sort. That means no restaurants, no bars, no coffee shops and no birthday parties. Sure, you have an infant to keep you company, but it can get pretty lonely if you aren’t careful.

All alone, as usual.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and sane during a social lockdown, whether you’re caring for a 13-pound human or responsibly hunkering down until COVID-19 slows its spread. That doesn’t mean it’s easy — it’s not, especially for all of you with mobile children to care for, too — but if you’re in a position to stay home these next few weeks, here are my best tips for maintaining morale when you’re forced to rip up your routine.

  1. Continue to exercise. Your gym is closed. Your barre studio is shut down. Your running club has halted group speed work. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your couch. Working up a sweat will help you feel better and keep anxiety at bay — you’ll just have to get a bit creative. My at-home workout of choice during Charlie’s first fiscal quarter out of the womb has been Barre 3 online, where you can choose 10-, 30- and 60-minute body weight workouts. Not for you? My local yoga practice has been streaming live classes for $10 a pop, and I bet other fitness centers and dance studios are doing something similar. (Heck, even Peloton husband looks pretty smart now.) My advice: find something you like and try to do it every day. (My baby personally recommends a play gym.

    This gym’s security is no joke.
  2. Get outside. If you can do it safely, try to get some fresh air away from crowds. We’re lucky enough to be hunkering down upstate, which means long walks with the dog are still on the table. If you’re in a densely populated area, you may have to think outside the box. Call us morbid, but Charlie and my favorite place to walk during his first few month in the city was a nearby cemetery — no crowds, wide paths and plenty of sunshine. Just be sure to wash your hands after pushing your apartment building’s elevator buttons, so when you visit the graveyard, you can stay just a guest.

    Baby on board.
  3. Cook something delicious. It’s tempting to survive on pop tarts and powdered sugar when quarantined indoors, but challenge yourself to make something homemade if you have the ingredients. It’s a particularly good time to cook something that takes all day, like chicken stock or stew. In case we’ll be inside a long time, cook up the fresh stuff first (I made chili yesterday to use the bell peppers), then start experimenting with pantry staples like you’re in an episode of Chopped. (Hint: Pasta, salt, canned sundried tomatoes in oil and Italian seasoning make a deliciously simple dinner.) If it’s your thing, it’s OK to have a drink, too, even if you’re camping out solo.
    Stockpiling, Baltimore style.
  4. Prioritize mental health, too. Eating well and exercising is important, but so is self care. Take a bubble bath. Read a novel. Bake some homemade bread. Plant a garden. Write a letter. Call your mother. Hug your dog. And most of all, try to stay off Twitter (and if you succeed in doing that, please tell me how.)
    More walks, please.

What are your best tips for healthy living during this turbulent time?

Categories
Running Training

Party Like It’s 1997

I might be biased by the fact that I was a very impressionable twelve years old, but 1997 was a true golden age of music.

The world gave us so many hits that year: Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping, the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony and Backstreet Boys’ Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), to name a few. We got P. Diddy’s I’ll Be Missing You, Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life and Hanson’s MMMBop, and yes, I’ve seen two out of three of those musical acts in concert (and no, one of them wasn’t Sean Combs.)  And let’s not forget that five minute and eleven second long soundtrack version of My Heart Will Go On that graced airwaves, my family’s communal CD player and pre-teen piano music recitals for months on end as we imagined life aboard the Titanic and debated why Leo didn’t try at least one more time to get on that extremely buoyant door.

I believe I’m 11 in this photo, not 12, but 1. you get the picture and 2. what I wouldn’t give to still own that amazing velvet, pink headband.

But while billboard-topping hits including Spice Girl’s Wannabe and R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly Aqua’s Barbie Girl still sometimes find their way onto my upstate dance party play lists, the piece of 1997 poetry that I probably think about most often is that hypothetical commencement speech Wear Sunscreen.

Written as an essay for the Chicago Tribune in 1997 and recorded two years later as a spoken-word radio hit produced by none other than Romeo+Juliet director Baz Luhrmann, it gave listeners unsolicited advice like “do one thing every day that scares you” and “keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements.”

It’s chock full of wisdom, but the line that pops into my head on a nearly daily basis is this one: “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.” Last spring, when I was considering applying for a job that would require a cross-country move (to Southern California, but still), I wondered quite a bit whether my more than a decade in NYC had made me, as they say, “hard.”

It’s certainly made me an excellent photographer.

And in some ways, I it has: I have no patience for families walking three-abreast down a city street, I jaywalk like it’s my job and I secretly plot to destroy anyone standing still on the left side of an escalator. I’m not a monster: I’ll always try to help a perplexed tourist reading a subway map upside down. But I also once mashed a baby cockroach with my bare fist while drunkenly making post-bar grilled cheese in my cousin’s Brooklyn apartment, so yeah, you could say I’ve toughened up.

That is, I THOUGHT I’d toughened up. And then the temperature dropped to negative 9 degrees this past week, and I realized just how soft I really am.

Normally, Mongolian-like winter temperatures wouldn’t be a big deal: bundle up, stay indoors and binge watch Sex Education, which is so, so good but (public service announcement) too full of nudity to watch on an airplane or with your dad. But I made the mistake last fall of entering a game of chance I never expected to win — the NYC Half Marathon lottery – and accidentally secured myself a spot in the March 17 event.

WHAT HAVE I DONE

Or in other words, not running in this frigid, cruel February isn’t really an option, at least not if I want to try for my 14th (?) sub-2:00 finish.

So I’ve made myself a deal: when it’s so cold that frostbite is a real possibility, I’m doing the unthinkable and churning out my workout on my robot nemesis, the treadmill. But when it’s 25 degrees and up, I’m layering on the Spandex, channeling my inner Bernese mountain dog, and getting outside for my miles, icicles and all.

“The Bernese mountain dogs of the world have voted and we’re never coming inside again. Please leave our kibbles in the snow.”

And yes, I’m wearing sunscreen while I do it.

How is your arctic training going?

Categories
Running

Ghosts of Bloggers Past

Have you ever been ghosted? No, I’m not talking about throwing romantic ceramics with Swayze, may he rest in peace. And I’m not talking about use of this emoji, which is the only proper way to punctuate the phrase “I’m so hungry I could die.” And I’m not talking about hiding under a white sheet with holes cut out of the eyes and waiting for the Great Pumpkin a la Linus van Pelt.

IMG_0365
These aren’t the bones you’re looking for.

I’m talking about ghosting in the 2018 sense — or the soul-crushing feeling when someone you’d been talking with completely falls off the face of the planet without any advanced warning or the common decency to say good-bye. From what I hear, it’s a big problem with online dating. It’s also a big problem on this blog.

Hello again, friends. Sorry to have ghosted you these last three months.

It wasn’t intentional, I swear. I’m alive — and maybe even well, depending on your loose reading of the definition.

But I’ve just been so gosh-darn busy that I haven’t had the time to sit down and put thoughts to paper, at least not the coherent and punny ones that you’ve come to expect from me. I suppose I could have just posted a bi-monthly series of Lucille photos without any text connecting them (who’d have known the difference, honestly?) but I didn’t want to steal thunder from her own lifestyle blog: The Fast and the Furriest.

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“It’s password protected.”

To be sure, I didn’t disappear because I had nothing to say. On the contrary, I could’ve posted nearly every day since March, on topics as vast ranging as how to give a matron of honor speech that’ll leave the bride in tears (hint: make sure everyone’s drinking a lot) to how to be the most hungover alumni the Sunday of your college reunion.

Other topics of expertise this spring: drive-in double features, planting a garden, starting a dream job or running your 14th sub-2-hour half marathon despite having zero time to train and then being unable to sit for two straight days due to crippling hip pain. Aren’t your thirties fun?

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The home team cheer squad.

Now I can’t promise I won’t disappear again — this new job really is kicking my butt and our new upstate hammock won’t rock itself — but I’ll try to keep the honest-to-god ghosting to a minimum. I also promise to keep the LuBear photos flowing, because that’s what we’re all really here for, now isn’t it?

Sorry again to disappear for three month. How has YOUR past fiscal quarter been?

Categories
Races

Songs of Good Cheer

News flash: On Saturday morning, I won the Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Half Marathon.

Don’t misunderstand me: I didn’t run it or anything. But I stood on my front stoop in the rain, blasted Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind,” called affirmations to every athlete passing by and — most importantly — had the best-looking sidekick this side of Poughkeepsie. I think we can all agree that’s #winning.

Best friends always color coordinate. 


I hadn’t expected to enjoy myself so much spectating the event. In fact, just three weeks before, I’d cursed that very same race when I realized 1. It was passing right by my house and 2. I wasn’t in good enough shape to join it.

I’ve largely let running go by the wayside since the NYC Half Marathon in March, and while I usually pride myself in being able to churn out a sub-2 half with little to no extra training, I knew deep in my soul I wasn’t in good enough shape to finish this weekend’s race and feel good doing it.

Actually, for a brief minute, I tricked myself into thinking I could: I pictured hustling back into shape, wrote down actual workouts in my google calendar, devised ways to replace rest days with extra long runs, and ran an impromptu seven-miler after a month on the couch just to show myself I still had it.

And — ooooh — the punishment shin splints have been relentless. Never go from zero to seven, people, NEVER.

So I quickly scrapped that plan (and have been wearing sneakers every day since waiting for the shin pain to subside…) and decided to reimagine myself cheering alongside the race course instead.

And I’m so glad I did. I’m not sure about the other 13.1 miles (or 26.2 miles for the simultaneous full), but I was the only spectator as far as the eye could see on my stretch of road. And having been on the other side, I know just how good a “looking good, runner!” can feel when you’re powering up a hill in the rain counting down the miles til the finish line.

Plus a bernese wrapped in a beach towel makes everyone laugh.

“I could catch you if I wanted to.”


So what did I learn this past weekend? That cheering at a race can be just as fun as running one, without any of the pesky recovery time. And that telling an environmentally friendly runner she can toss her empty gel in your yard elicits so much gratitude. And that Lucille and I wear the same size raincoat but she refuses to be seen outside in it.

“Mom, you’re embarrassing me.”


But most of all, Saturday taught me when the area’s October half marathon rolls through town, I’m gonna be ready this time. Don’t believe me? I already registered.

Who’s with me?

Categories
Training

Counter-Intuitive Fitness

A lot of what we now know to be true about fitness and weight loss appears at first counter-intuitive:

  • To lose fat, eat more of it.
  • To look slimmer, gain muscle weight.
  • To feel more awake, exhaust yourself with a workout.

And here’s one more: to exercise more frequently, cancel your gym membership.

(At least, I’m hoping that’s the case. Ask me in a month whether my pants still button.)

I’ve belonged to a gym in New York City for almost nine years — first New York Sports Club, then the 92 St. Y, then back to NYSC where they amazingly grandfathered me back in at the same cheap rate I was paying in 2008 following the Lehman Brothers crash. Thanks, subprime mortgage crisis!

And during each of those years, I used the gym differently. As an unhealthy college grad, I’d plug into the elliptical for 20 minutes then call it a day. During my four marathon training cycles, I’d churn out treadmill workouts then recover with a yoga class. In the months before our wedding, I’d sweat my way through two Body Pump classes a week, toning my arms primarily so I could dance to Shout and look good doing it. #priorities

DSC_4054.jpg

But recently, I’ve found it harder and harder to make it to the gym. If I had a personal trainer, I’m sure she’d tell me there’s always an excuse, but I swear my reasons are legit: I started a job with significantly longer hours, I uncovered my bike after a winter in storage, I moved to a building with an in-house fitness room and I got a dog who’s not so good at the rowing machine. Why race to a 7 p.m. pilates class in Manhattan when I can be at home snuggling this gorgeous face in Queens? I rest my case.

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This is my boating hat.

In fact, not only was I paying a monthly membership for a gym I wasn’t going to, I found that knowing I wasn’t getting my money’s worth at NYSC was actually discouraging me from taking advantage of other workout opportunities, too. Why go to a friend’s $25 barre class if I am already paying for NYSC? Why buy a climbing session if I am already paying for NYSC? Why cough up $40 for a 5K race entry if am already paying for NYSC?

So I did something in April that may appear counter-intuitive: I walked into NYSC, took a final Body Pump class, and canceled my gym membership once and for all.

IMG_1183
Goodbye forever, Dan, my favorite Body Pump instructor. 😦

And then I signed up for a $10 yoga class at my apartment building next week, because the burden had been lifted!

So who knows if quitting my gym will help me stop turning down other classes and increase my fitness levels, but it’s worth a try, even if it seems counter-intuitive. Because, hey, some counter-intuitive things really do work: like how giant dogs actually thrive in a tiny apartment. I swear.

IMG_0996
I’m not big. You’re big.

What surprising things have you done in the name of fitness?

Categories
Training

Pain in the Ash

Religion can be a complicated thing, at worst justifying discrimination and genocide, and at best, making it socially acceptable to dip your crackers in wine before noon.

A semi-lapsed Episcopalian thriving in the heathen’s paradise that is New York City, I don’t practice my faith much outside of Christmas with the family and muttering “Jesus Christ” at every tourist on Lex, and I’m certainly not as consistent about bowing my head for grace as my most pious niece, Keira.

photo (100)
Please bless this kibble and bring me a bunny rabbit as a friend who I probably won’t eat but might by mistake. Amen.

But there is one season of the Christian year that I do tend to observe, well, religiously, and that’s Lent.

For those of you who don’t painstakingly count down the hours until Cadbury Crème Egg season like the rest of us, Lent’s a 40-day period in the Christian liturgical calendar reserved for prayer, penance and self-denial. It’s a ball of solemnity and fun, let me tell you.

Many people practice Lent by giving up something for the entire six-week period, like chocolate or meat or chocolate-covered meat, which, honestly, I think we should eat more of as a society.

But as my general policy – in fitness and in life – is against the unsustainable practice of outright denial, I prefer to stay mindful of the season by instead adding something to my daily routine for 40 straight days. I’d originally hoped it would be another running streak, but with two weeks of Hong Kong travel ahead for me – including two 16.5 hours flights bookmarking either side –40 days of running isn’t realistically in the cards.

So instead this Lenten season, I’m vowing to plank for one minute every single day between now and Easter. I realize strengthening my core muscles may not have been what Jesus and friends had in mind when they wrote the rule book, but it’s something that’s important to me and my health, so I don’t think they’d mind.

More importantly, the stronger my stomach is come April 20, the faster I can stuff it with crème eggs, and we all know that’s the real end game here.

What are you giving up – or taking up – this Lenten season? 

Categories
Running

Crazy Coincidence

I like to think I’m a pretty rational human being, but I’ve been called crazy more times this week than Amanda Bynes on a good day. Case in point:

  • When I told my boyfriend I ran 41 miles last week, he said I was insane.
  • When I told a friend I’ll be busing nine hours for a Third Eye Blind concert this Saturday, she said I was a lunatic.
  • When my brother skimmed my iPhone during my recent stopover in Baltimore, he said the copious still frames of his goldendoodle reminded him of Jack Torrance’s “all work and no play” manuscript in The Shining.

photo 4

Touché, Thomas. Touché.

Normally, at the utterance of the word “crazy,” I launch into a spiel about the word’s blatantly sexist connotation and try to pass off well-constructed arguments about the “nasty tradition of pathologizing female emotion” from this wonderful Jezebel article as my own. But today, that won’t be happening because – to be honest – I am behaving crazily, at least if you’re going by Einstein’s designation.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Let me explain. On Sunday, I concluded my eleventh week of marathon training with an 18-mile run. It was tough, but the weather was gorgeous, the trail was practically vacant and I returned home prepared to recover on the hammock all afternoon long with my very best friend.

REᗡЯUM REᗡЯUM REᗡЯUM
RED RUM RED RUM RED RUM

Fast forward to the next morning, and I’m all-but-bedridden with the worst cold I’ve had all year. Stuffy nose, sore throat, sinus pain, anchovies: the works. On a side note, never order that on a pizza.

As I nursed a cup of soup during my lunch break, I started thinking about the blog post I would write tonight. Something along the lines of: “No matter how good running is for your overall health, run for three hours straight and your immune system starts to break down.” At least, that’s what I thought I was going to write tonight … until I happened to look up the blog post I published on the same date last year, in which I wrote EXACTLY that. Let me read you an excerpt. (Actually, you’re going to have to read it yourself, but feel free to imagine it in my voice.)

“I spent this week all-but-bedridden with a crippling sinus infection. It hit the day after I completed an 18-miler, my longest … workout to date.”

Apparently, “all-but-bedridden” is my favorite phrase two years running. More importantly, apparently my body is absolutely fine with 15 or 16 or 17 miles, but hit that magical No. 18 and suddenly, I’m spreading rhinovirus all over Manhattan for a second year in a row.

Normally, I’ll end a blog post with a plea for advice from the more seasoned runners who kindly read my ramblings and set me straight. Should I take off training until my nose stops running? –  I might ask. – Is it true you can still work out if your disease is above the neck? How many grilled cheeses a day can a sick woman really justify? But really though. Four?

But this time, I can just refer to my September 16, 2012 self for the answers. If I trust my year-ago post, I discover that, in fact, three days off during recovery isn’t going to flat-line my fitness.

That is, assuming history continues to repeat itself. But hey, crazier things have happened.

photo 1 (20)

I lied, fellow runners: I’m totally still going to ask for your input. Do you power through a cold or let your training take a breather until you’re well?

Categories
Running Training

In the Same Boat

My father and I have innumerable things in common – our alma mater, our sense of humor, our appreciation of ABC’s 1990s Friday night line-up, our uncanny ability to down a 32-ounce baseball steak in one sitting – but when it comes to our favorite past times, we start to diverge. While I see no better way to spend a Saturday morning than by racing a new PR or working out with friends or logging a long-run en route to the marathon, my dad’s interests lie elsewhere. Forget the Central Park bridle path – my papa would gladly trade his first- and third-born children to spend the rest of his life on a boat.

Goldendoodle optional.
Goldendoodle optional.

The truth is, boating and running aren’t really all that different. Sure, one requires permitting and proximity to water and access to a motorized vessel and a hefty chunk of disposable income and the other demands – uh, nothing? shoes? – but when it comes down to it, the two diversions have more in common than you’d think.

So without further ado, I bring you the never-before-seen series, ‘How Running is a Heck of a Lot Like Boating.’ Also known as ‘Huh. I haven’t had a dog photo on this blog for a solid week. Let’s remedy that.’

Boating and running are more fun when you’re going fast. You’ll hear it time and time again: to race faster, you have to train faster. My legs may love a slow morning jog the day after a hard workout, but nothing feels better than picking up speed, striding it out and cruising full tilt ahead to the finish line.

Hi Mom and Dad!
Yield left!

Boating and running require a lot of advanced planning. As Annie Van De Wiele once wrote, “The art of the sailor is to leave nothing to chance.” The same goes for training for a race. Unchartered waters are exciting when you’re talking about a new relationship or job, but when it comes to manning a watercraft or plotting your 16-week marathon training plan, you’re more likely to get out alive if you devise a strategy in advance and stick to it.

Keira brought her lifevest, like she planned.
This lady is getting out alive.

Boating and running do terrible things to your hair. Mine’s frayed and broken all along the elastic line; Keira’s is full of sea water and Baltimore Harbor hepatitis. I’d suggest you don’t touch either of us.

How embarrassing.
How embarrassing.

Boating and running are better with friends. Run 10 miles alone and have Duran Duran’s Rio cycling through your brain for a full 90 minutes. Run 10 miles with a buddy and watch the miles fly by. Boating, too, requires friends for tying the lines and mixing the cocktails and lounging on the front of the boat, which – surprise!  – is my personal specialty.

Fun fact: running friends can second as boating friends.
Fun fact: running friends can second as boating friends.

Boating and running can tire out even their biggest fans. I love running so much I write a blog about it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get sick and tired of it from time to time. Boating, too, can cause even the most avid seafarer to grow weary. When that happens, take some time off, throw yourself into other pursuits, and you’ll feel the sea (or trail) calling you back again before you know it.

I. Demand. Dry. Land.
I. Demand. Dry. Land.

But while I’d argue that boating and running have an awful lot in common, there’s at least one key way they’re massively different, and that’s acknowledgement of other participants. If you’ve ever spent an afternoon on a boat, you know that the first rule of maritime law is to wave at every other seaman who crosses your path. (Second rule of boating: don’t call them seamen).

But the same apparently does not hold true in running. I don’t know if this is unique to New York City or what, but I find every single time I run by another athlete, she averts her eyes and presses forward. Now, I’m in no means demanding an enthusiastic high-five or a sweaty mile-6 embrace, but it seems to me a simple smile or nod of acknowledgement could work wonders in making our seemingly solitary sport seem more communal. Especially in late summer, when the odds are good that everyone running the Central Park loop with his own water bottle at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning is gearing up for the same exact Nov. 3 event, it seems we could silently but actively recognize our hard work with a smile or wave.

So that’s what I’m going to start to do. Who’s with me?

Categories
Races Running

Perspective

A lot has changed in my life since this same month last year. I’ve run a marathon. My brother has adopted a puppy. I’ve traveled to India and Brazil, I’m dating someone new, and heart-throb Seal is back on the market. (Those last two items may or may not be related.)

But you know what hasn’t changed since April 2012? My performance in NYRR’s annual Scotland Run 10K.

photo 5 (1)

This is the second time I’ve completed this race, giving me a chance to track my progress over the course of a year. Last year, I crossed the finish line at a respectable 50:58; a full 365 days later, I managed to shave off (drumroll please) a whopping 19 seconds to secure a time of 50:39. Not a bad performance in the scheme of things, no, but a time that’s in no way indicative of the literally one thousand miles I’ve logged in the 12 months since.

Saturday’s finish was also more than four minutes slower than my 10K PR of 47:31 recorded last June at the NYRR New York Mini. Four minutes may not feel a lot of time when you’re watching Ryan Gosling strut his stuff on the big screen, but it’s an eternity when you’re talking about 10K splits.

Or in other words (lifted from my good friend Toby Keith), it appears I’m not as good as I once was. Also, I should have been a cowboy.

But while it’s tempting to let my failure to improve as an athlete over the course of the year get me down, I’m trying hard to keep it all in perspective. Yes, my performance at the Scottish Run was nearly identical to last year’s, but I’m also coming from a vastly different athletic base. By the time I’d run this past weekend’s race in 2012, I already had six first-quarter races under my belt, including two other 10Ks and a half marathon in a blizzard. This year, my first-quarter race count was a big ol’ goose egg.

As a result, I haven’t been practicing pacing in a crowd or negative splitting or drinking on the go or – most importantly – getting my speed up to a racing clip, so of course this run would feel a little rocky. Without putting it in perspective, it’s easy to find myself disappointed with my performance, but once you take everything into account, Saturday’s lackluster outcome wasn’t worth getting bent out of shape over. I came at this year’s Scotland Run with painfully little training, and if I was still able to finish 19 seconds faster than I did last year, then maybe I’m not in such a bad place after all. I mean, if I were to actually start hard training again, who knows what I’d be capable of?

But perspective isn’t just for an athlete’s arsenal. It’s also an invaluable coping mechanism for non-athletes and non-humans alike. I mean, ever gotten a terrible haircut?

Oh cruel world. I preferred not having to see ye.
Oh cruel world. I preferred not having to see ye.

Tempting to let it get you down, sure, but sometimes, it just takes a little perspective, some time and a lovely red bandanna to get you smiling again.

'I've got to admit it's getting better.'
‘I’ve got to admit it’s getting better.’

How do you try to keep a disappointing race performance in perspective?

Categories
Running

Taper Crazies

As the second week of October comes to a close, the sounds of autumn are acutely apparent, especially when your friends are as hipster-smug as mine.

“I love it when the leaves change colors.”

“This pumpkin-spiced latte is delicious.”

“Let’s go apple picking in upstate New York, carve organic gourds from the Union Square farmers market, sample six varieties of Oktoberfest beer and then snuggle in front of a fire. All while wearing flannel.”

And if you’re a runner like me, there’s one more surefire sound that fall is upon us:

“I’ve started tapering for the marathon and it’s driving me crazy.”

Tapering, or dramatically reducing your weekly mileage ahead of a big race, only takes a few days for shorter events, but when approaching 26.2 miles, the process takes the better part of a month. The slowdown is gradual, with most experts recommending a 20- to 25-percent slide in mileage each week, primarily through a shortening of the weekly long run. On my schedule, for example, my long run drops from 20 miles last weekend to 12 this weekend to 8 the Saturday before the race. My mid-week runs also pull back, shaving a few extra miles off my weekly totals.

The reduced mileage is intended to allow athletes to rest and reload their muscles ahead of the big day. And according to everything I’ve read about the process, it apparently drives most runners ape-shit crazy.

“Both veterans and newcomers often find it difficult to scale back their mileage, kick up their feet and coast into race day,” says this Runner’s World article. This affliction, dubbed “taper crazies,” is said to make runners anxious and agitated and lead-footed, and – as if we weren’t annoying enough – really darn annoying.

Well not this runner. Sleeping in later every single morning? Spending less time on these achy legs? Still getting to carb load like it’s my job? Who doesn’t like these things? No offense, but I categorize people-who-hate-tapering alongside people-who-order-their-steaks-well-done and people-who-drown-puppies.

Heck, I like tapering so much, I might just run the NYC marathon next year for the tapering alone.

(Of course, I may be eating my words in two week’s time. But as long as I’m still also eating 2,500 calories of carbohydrates a day, that’s A-OK in my book.)

How is your tapering going? And are you upset I haven’t included a gratuitous golden-doodle photo in today’s post? Well, fine. If you insist. God, you guys are pushy.

I’m tapering, too.