Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Phantom Pains and Pre-Race Day Stress

To everyone about to run a marathon, I feel your pain.

Everything I read about tapering for a marathon has been correct (minus eating a ton- my meals seem to be staying at a pretty normal size)! The phantom pains have started, except it's not really a phantom pain. Somehow I pulled a muscle in my side and it's been hurting for the last few days. The thing is, I THOUGHT it was a phantom pain until I took a spinning class yesterday and it was all too real. I hope that whatever it is, phantom or not, that it goes the heck AWAY in two weeks, because NO ONE likes taper pains.

I've been doing a few things to try to deal with my taper pains and pre race day stress, and I'll talk about them a bit below. If anyone has any other advice or ideas I'd love to hear those as well.

Race Pressure

All these months of training is finally coming together to allow me to accomplish my goal of finishing a full. Sometimes I find myself wanting to get rid of that stress by thinking of an out, but in this case that's not a good idea- I really want to run this. Therefore, I've been sucking it up and dealing with my pre-race stress by:

  • Looking back at my training logs, mileage, etc. 
  • Focusing on what I CAN control, like my shorter run today, healthy eating, early bedtime, stretching, foam rolling, etc. 
  • Talk with other runners who have past experience with marathon running. Knowing that what I'm experiencing is normal freaks me out WAY less. 😋
  • Review the race course, packet pickup, etc. and make a plan 
Tapering is hard because I normally deal with stress by going for a run or a bike ride. In this case, I'm intentionally limiting what I do so that I can be fresh and springy (or as "springy" as one can be at 5 am) on race day. Suddenly a whole lot of time opens up for me to worry and fret about reaching my goals. All of those little insecurities rise to the top and I start thinking about anything and everything. Like, HOW on earth does one 20 mile run prepare me for 26.2 miles??? I read it does, but I don't really know that yet...

I am trying my best to work on my mental game, get rid of tension, set my mind right and visualize my end goal. 

Even though I'm running less mileage I'm also finding that I'm getting sick easier. It was really strange so I decided to look it up online, and this is what I found (Click the title text below to go to the article and read more)

Runners and Immunity

"In general, moderate runners, fitness enthusiasts, and master’s athletes are a healthy bunch. When asked, 60 to 90 percent of these individuals reported having fewer colds than their peers who didn’t work out.
But elite and endurance athletes who train more intensely might be at a greater risk for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI). A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that many Los Angeles marathon participants self-reported infectious episodes both during periods of intense training and after the race.
Why? Experts believe immune function might be altered and may even be suppressed for a period of time after prolonged or intensive exercise.
According to Dr. David Neiman’s open window theory, in the three to 72 hours after an intensive training session or race, your immunity may be suppressed. That means it might be easier for viruses and bacteria to take hold, increasing your risk for infection.
If tapering begins immediately after your most intense period of training, the open window theory would explain why runners get sick during this time. But more research is needed to understand exactly what’s happening to the immune system in endurance athletes.
Regardless, it’s especially important to rest and not overexert yourself both before and after a marathon."
I thought this was really interesting, and I know it's also important to continue to stay in good shape with shorter runs, and also to let my muscles heal. That said, I think a short run at the park tonight is exactly what I need. May the taper be with you. (I know, baaad Star Wars reference snuck in there). 😎😄

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