Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reverse Taper In Progress

Six days post-Ann Arbor Marathon, and I’m “Repating”.  What is ‘Repating’?  Well, it’s a backwards taper, or a Reverse Taper, as it’s more commonly known.

The Reverse Taper: slowly building up mileage for 3 weeks or more as you recover from a marathon, mirroring the pattern pre-marathon of dwindling your miles for 3 weeks to rest up and recover. Taper, but in reverse. 

 It’s never meant so much for me to do this right since I need to nail it and get back to running strong to prep for the ING New York City Marathon in November, where I just very well may be in contention for a top 10,900th place finish.

I know there are some beings out there who run a day or two after the marathon, and I get that. The need to get some blood flowing, to loosen up their legs and aid in recovery.  But I simply can not do that and am not one of those specimens. My legs are so stiff and sore, (esp on day 2 and 3) and the ligaments and tendons so taxed and stretched that I know they would just snap and I’d be injured. Some weird upper body injury also aways appears which confuses me. "How is it my shoulders and forearms even hurt?" It's like waking up from a blackout with unexplained bumps and bruises. "What Happened?"

 In fact, since my whole body is sore from top to bottom, it takes a few days for this all over pain to go away for me to feel the extent of my tendinitis and other damage. When your whole body’s flesh is on fire, you have to wait until it goes out and starts to smoke before your can feel the bones underneath.

I have to get through this... order to feel this.
There’s a difference between muscle soreness and inflamed tendons. Much like the difference between running through pain vs running thru injury. I can run thru muscle pain, partially because I know a soft run will actually help recovery, but to run thru injury is to make a broken piece of my body even “broker”

The period following a marathon is unique. For days I feel my nerves still firing away all spastic and electric. Nights are restless and strange.  My sleep is deep, seemingly-opium driven with dreams that dive into deeper levels of my psychic sea, but then I bob right up to the conscious level top, and my eyes jump open every hour. Usually thirsty and having to pee.

This has finally started to calm down, and the muscle pain is gone and nearly faded although I have not yet tested them in a run. My guess is they will be fine for a mile or more, but anything over 4-6 will fire up the portions that are still a bit shredded and I’m sure sore points will rekindle and demand to be iced.

I’ve been icing plenty. I have been rolling like a fiend on my new love, The Foam Roller. I have been taking supplements, eating lots of protein like eggs every morning, and talking walks up to 5 miles.

My gut tells me that my impatience to get back to running will overwhelm common sense, and that, based on how I am, it will be nearly impossible to try to wait too long to jump back into it, but so so easy to get back too soon. When I project forward and wonder what my future self will think of my current self’s decision making, I’m quite sure I will call myself an impatient immature SOB, as with most things, so I’m trying to resist the urge.

My brain’s pondering my next marathon training plan, which for me is just figuring out the Long Runs and then working from there.  I am thinking of doing a 16 miler, two 18’s milers, two 20’s and a 22.  All of this two weeks apart. Then again, I am also wondering about trying something different. I’d love to jump into the NYCM starting chute with five 20 milers on my legs, and yes, plenty of more speedwork than I did this spring.  (Click here for my Top Secret Marathon Training Program)

Pete Pfitzinger is one of my favorite marathon writers, and Advanced Marathoning one of my favorite books. I think what I like about him is that he’s not all full of gimmicks and slogans. And while I would never be able to follow one of his elite focused plans, he offers more than just something to print on a pillow.

Here’s what the usually very scientific fellow says about the reverse taper:

“Get a massage. Go swimming. Ride a bike. Take a walk. But don't run until the soreness in your muscles subsides. Why? Because their resiliency is at an all-time low, and your risk of injury is high. These other forms of gentle exercise, however, will pump blood to your muscles and help you to recover more quickly.

There's another reason to skip running for a few days after the race. Sooner or later your warped judgment will lead you to start training for another race. You will be getting up at 5:30, running in the dark, through snow, rain, and hail. Your mind needs a break too.

During this recess, indulge yourself. Eat kahlua mocha fudge brownie ice cream. Sleep in. Get thrown out of the local hot tub. Go dancing with Mick Jagger. In short, give your brain a rest from the mental routine of training. "

So, as I write this, it is the seventh day with no running.  I promised my legs a month off during the Ann Arbor marathon, I lied of course, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll make it today and can at least fulfill 25% of my deal. But soon, I’m slowly jumping back into it, and very excited and impatient for the ride.

The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.


Jen@runfortheboys said...

Mark I'm not gonna lie, you are scaring me with the post-marathon body aches and pains! :)

Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

haha...running like ur whole body is on fire, i like that one. now since i have yet to run a marathon i can only guess, but i think recovery is diff. for everyone but i'd say smart call to wait a few days and avoid running with body fire...just my opinion. ;) so take care, and yea, deciding the 'smart' choice and that whole internal battle of whether to run or push it is always a demon...but as i've gotten older i've found that in the end patience is usually best. THAT said, i'd be lying if i said i didn't try and push it, i seem to obviously be sooo helpful. ;) good luck with the reverse taper!

peter rosch said...

wow. and here i was giving some real thought to training for one. well, maybe not real thought, but at least some thought. the part that spooks me is that 16, two 18s, two 20s and a 22 before hand. that is some serious dedication brother. glad to see you are taking 'er easy for a bit–with five mile walks! good stuff.

Mark Matthews said...

Don't let that scare you. I finished my first one with just one 20 miler.

Mark Matthews said...

Nothing you haven't already probably experienced. You have given birth to children, right?

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