It is finally here. The worst week of training season. Worse than all those weeks of hills training, AND the 4 weeks of speed work. That’s right. It’s taper week. The week I have no patience for. The week that sets me on edge because I have discovered I have a minimum running mileage that must be completed on a weekly basis to prevent me from turning into the human equivalent of grumpy cat. Anyone who has seen me when I’m injured and thus not running knows exactly what I am talking about.
As frustrating as taper week is, I am beyond excited, because [insert but wiggle and thigh drumming here] IT’S ONE WEEK TIL RACE DAYYYYYYYYYY!!” (if you’re annoyed with me already, imagine how my coworkers feel – they’ve been getting a countdown for the last 2 months.)
I get this excited every time. Even for the 5K colour run I did in September. It just makes me happy to near any finish line. I did the same thing before the last exam of each semester and about exploded before the last exam of my undergrad. Excited is sort of my jam.
This training season I slogged through some pretty horrible runs – for my southern readers – I do live in the area that got the polar vortexes. Yes multiple. There was a month the “with windchill” temperature didn’t rise about -25C (-13F).
This season I’ve also had a few people ask for advice on running. The truth is I’m not an expert. My form probably leave much to be desired – except after I’ve stopped at an intersection, then I maintain perfect form as I prance across the intersection. There are so many people watching from their cars… But I have picked up a few lessons over the last year of running. Which turned out to be a lot more running than I realized when I consulted my Garmin. What lessons do I have to share at this point in my relatively short running career?
- Running isn’t always fun, but being able to gleefully down a bowl of pasta the night before a race because CARB LOADINGGGG! is sort of awesome.
- Pay attention to your shoes. This winter I quite literally burned rubber and wore my shoes down to the sole. The snow covered for me so I never noticed until it all started to melt and my shoes were meeting pavement again. And it hurt. So yeah, replace ’em before that point. But if you don’t replace them until you have worn them to plastic, enjoy bragging that you burned rubber for a few weeks. You know in between icing your muscles.
- There is a massive difference between “I can’t” and “I really don’t want to” Usually the latter wins out. The point of training isn’t the mileage, it’s the learning to push just a little more and then collapsing at the finish line. With half a banana and a bottle of high protein chocolate milk. No chocolate milk if you choose not to complete. But worst case throw out a muscle name, say it is killing you and limp to the finish.
- It doesn’t matter if you walked the last 3K because you’re injured, there is a compulsive need to limp in somewhat running form across the finish line.
- Going to the grocery store in spandex is fine. But it better not be “I just finished a really tough run and now smell like a locker room” spandex.
- The speed signs they put in neighbourhoods in an attempt to make drivers realize how fast they’re going (as if they cannot read their speedometer) will pick up runners. It’s sort of fun.
- If you forget body glide you will remember when it’s too late. And you will swear to never forget again. Really the only thing you’ll never forget is that you forgot to use body glide.
- You can eat candy while running, just make sure you refer to them as energy gels or “nutrition”. No one will know you swapped your Gu jujubes for actual jujubes. Or you can outright eat a Mars Bar. I ran with a wonderful woman who did this every long run in the summer. Props for it never being a melted mess.
- You may think you’re hydrated but think that again when you’re 3K from home with no water. Suddenly your throat feels like the Sahara Desert.
- LSD means something totally different to runners. This distinction makes efficient tweets very difficult. Same thing with PR/PB (personal record/best), DNC (did not complete) and IT band (butt to knee muscle/tendon/thing that will cause knee pain – see what kind of expert you’re relying on?!). We speak in code. Runner’s code.
- Speaking of the runner’s code. Wave. Or you are classed as a grumpy runner. I hate grumpy runners. Mostly because they make me look creepy. Don’t disrespect the Runner’s Wave. If the guy across 6 lanes of traffic can wave at me, you who almost bumped into me on the two lane trail can wave.
- Never call a runner a jogger. And if someone asks if you jog, glare at them and tell them “No, I run.”
- Surprisingly, the worst run of the season won’t be the time you run through a foot of snow that had fallen over night, was slush splashed head to toe about 11K from the end of the run, and had to tackle multiple long and steep hills. That will actually be kind of awesome. Some of the worst runs are actually the best runs because you come out feeling like a bad ass for pushing through it. The worst runs will be the humid runs (a.k.a. the runs on the beautiful sunny days that are just as deceiving as sunny winter days).
- Take pride in the fact that your sanity is frequently questioned due to your running practices. FYI this means you have to give them reason to question your sanity – consistently getting up at 6:30am on Sundays for Run Club to run an excess of 10K regardless of the weather will do the trick. So will running in the rain, really windy weather, snow storms, and extreme cold. But don’t injure yourself or get frostbite. Then you’ll be actually crazy/stupid. It’s a fine line. Respect the line.
- There is little more frustrating that getting back to your driveway with my Garmin reading 0.2km from the goal distance. Go run up 6 driveways and turn around and run back. Eventually your neighbours will get it. Even if they don’t, you won’t care.
- Life is not complete until a train honks for you. #villagelife
- Be nice to the gas station attendants. You may need to use the gas station washroom some day and they control the keys.
- There’s always the pride and sense of accomplishment you get from being able to say you ran a half marathon, but let’s be real – the first time you do it for pride, after that it’s the swag bag, medals, and free bananas and chocolate milk that really draw us in.
- There is no such thing as optimal weather. If it was warm yesterday, it will be a polar vortex today. If it’s not a polar vortex it will be snow. Occasionally it’s both. If it was sunny yesterday on rest day, it will be raining today.
- Dressing for a run is a science and usually requires you to choose between hot or slightly chilly. Your choice usually boils down to how far will you have to be uncomfortable for.
- The runners high is the holy grail, achieve it and you feel like you could run forever. Or until that last hill. To achieve it requires at least a little pain. So they were sort of right when they said no pain no gain. But generally if it outright hurts you should probably take it easy.
21.1 Ever since the first marathon (Marathon to Athens Greece, guy was just trying to deliver a message and there were no chariots available I guess) event organizers have enjoyed violating #16. Beyond the 10K (although in the States they even get you with the 3.1 mile event) no race will end nicely on the even kilometer or mile. Don’t worry, they won’t even end at 0.1 – It ain’t over til your timing chip says you crossed the rubber mat. But at that point not ending on the even mile/kilometer won’t really matter.