Surviving the dreaded taper

Hello, hello!

So, I’m smack in the middle of my marathon taper and, up until last night, I thought I was handling it pretty well.

I’ve been very proactive about making a conscious effort to ease off appropriately, especially with weight amounts at CrossFit, because I wore myself out so much that I had to take some time off.

Generally, a runner doesn’t take time off 4 weeks before a marathon. :/

I went to CrossFit on Monday and had a really good workout.


I didn’t force the weights during the strength portion – mostly concentrated on form, which was apparently sucky because coach was nitpicking me to death about my knees tracking in on the squats – and I modified to 55# push-presses for the WOD.

I kept it steady and I  made it through 13 1/2 rounds.

Then, Tuesday was so beautiful that I had to get outside for a run. I only knocked out about 4 1/2 miles – my normal entrance to the park where I run was blocked so I had to improvise but I didn’t want to overdo it – and it was exactly what I needed.

My plans for the rest of the week looked like this: CrossFit on Wednesday (yesterday), running today, rest Friday, run Saturday.

But, I know me and I was tired yesterday so I decided to rest. I’ll go to CrossFit tonight, rest Friday, and then run on Saturday morning (mileage tbd).

Next week will probably look like this: CrossFit Monday, run Tuesday, CrossFit Wednesday, rest Thursday & Friday, travel Saturday, marathon on Sunday.

Anyway, last night. I had MAJOR ants in my pants. I couldn’t sit still! I totally felt like I should be working out.

It’s not like I’m a marathon newbie and have never tapered before. Totally been there done that but last night, it was like tapering was a whole new experience for me. I don’t even understand it!

I’m just going to take it as a sign that I’m better prepared than I’m giving myself credit for. Yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


So, let’s talk about the taper.

It’s difficult for most runners, as the big day nears, to dial back on their training. I mean, seriously, it’s like taking candy from a baby!

You’ve been logging tons upon tons of miles, you’ve been waking up before the butt-crack of dawn to get started on long runs, you’ve missed out on date nights with your significant other or social events with friends because you’re “in training” and now you’re supposed to run LESS?!?!


Yep. Less running makes for a cranky runner.

But, the taper is important and even necessary.

Here’s why:

1. all the glycogen, hormones, etc that you’ve depleted from your muscles during training return as you ease off

2. you’re giving your body time to heal any muscle damage that has occurred

3. you’re giving your body the break it needs so you don’t get sick

4. your body will be raring and ready to go on race day rather than be tired and unresponsive.

So, the general rule of thumb is to decrease your mileage by 20% each week starting 3 weeks out.

That final week before the marathon will feel like it takes an ETERNITY because you suddenly have all this time on your hands but, fear not! You can reacquaint yourself with your family! Remember them? The ones that love you and have supported you during your training? The ones that picked you up from the floor because you were too stiff to get back up from stretching after a long run? Yeah, those people. 🙂

They’ll be happy to see you again. Even if you are cranky. (well, probably. if you’re super cranky, they may push you out the 2nd floor window.)

You also need to fuel up a little more than you normally would.

Yes, I know your brain just exploded.

Run less and eat MORE?!

mind blown

Yep. It’s all part about repairing and refueling those muscles to make sure you’re ready for race day. 26.2 miles isn’t a short, easy run, people. Your muscles are going to need fuel to help you cover them all.

I highly recommend avoiding the scale this week, too. Trust me. No sense in getting all stressed out and then forgetting that you’re going to go RUN A MARATHON and burn it all off anyway. 🙂

Lastly, make sure you hydrate well and DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW!

No new sports drinks, no new foods, no new workouts because you’re dying of boredom from not running and you just have to do something.

Boring is the new cool. An upset tummy, food poisoning, or an injury just prior to a marathon is NOT cool.

Take this time to kick back on the couch and catch up on your favorite show(s), read a book, do crossword puzzles, color with your kids,  meditate, sleep or whatever.

I promise you will not literally bounce off the walls. It’ll be okay.

Yes, the taper is difficult. And kinda annoying. And sorta stressful.

But, it’s survivable. And you’ll be happy you did it. I promise. 🙂

Talk to me: What’s your favorite non-workout/running activity to do during the taper? How do you manage the stress of feeling like you should be working out but knowing rest is the right thing? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

– jennifer

Marathon recovery and Crockpot Chicken Tacos

I have been feeling pretty good since Saturday. No lingering stiffness, no pain, no soreness at all. I just walked some on Monday and Tuesday and climbed the stairs at work. So, I figured I would go to CrossFit this morning! Cross-training and strength training aren’t running and, with my BQ training plan (!) set to kick off on May 13, I figured I should do some active recovery to keep my fitness level high. The WOD promised to be good: 12 minute AMRAP of: 5x overhead squats, 55#; 8x KB snatch, 15#; 10x AbMat sit-ups. I was totally down for that! Well, okay, I was a little lot freaked out about the overhead squats because I suck royally at those. But hey, I’ll never improve if I don’t work on them, right? Right.

So, I got down to the business of warming up and was reminded that I may have pulled a rib fascia or ligament or something last week. Hrm. :/ Well, I kept on – push-ups, squats, a few AbMat sit-ups….ow….no more AbMat sit-ups. Okay, I figured I would do some more squats and decided to grab the 35# bar. No problem with front squats and back squats and then I did a push press. OW! Okay, I might be stubborn and bull-headed (thanks, Dad!) but stupid I am definitely not. I reracked the bar and set off to do some stretching instead. And then I did about 20 minutes of non-aggressive rowing and stretched some more. No WOD for me. 😦 And probably not on Friday either. I see rowing and stretching in my future. My goal is to heal so I can hit it hard come May 13.


Yes, I have little motivational reminders written on yellow stickies stuck to my bathroom mirror. Sometimes, I need a visual reminder! (There’s that bull-headedness showing off again.) That one also applies to injuries. I’m not going to NOT take care of myself now and get in my way in the future. My goal is a BQ and I have a little bit of rest time before my training plan kicks off. Some smart decisions, active recovery, and low-impact cardio (thank you spin bike at home!) and I should be good as new in no time!

How do you deal with injuries and/or training setbacks?



Okay, I will admit it. I did not make these tacos.  Well, I mean, I did not physically put the ingredients into the crockpot. I grabbed an interesting taco seasoning packet, defrosted the chicken, and went to CrossFit.  Later, I thought up the recipe, picked up the phone and called Thing 1, and told her what to do. So, because she sliced the onions, chopped the green pepper, mixed seasoning with salsa, and put it in the crockpot, she gets credit for “making” dinner. And you know what?  That is just fine with me! Sometimes, dinner needs to be a group effort. 🙂

So, generally I make my own taco seasoning but I was cruising through the Winn-Dixie and this taco seasoning packet caught my eye.


I checked out the ingredients and didn’t see anything that scared me so I figured, “What the heck? ” And that’s how dinner was conceived! Wow, the birds and the bees discussion is so much easier when you’re talking about dinner!

So, what went into the crockpot?
1/2 onion, sliced (feel free to do more)
1/2 green pepper, chopped (for some reason, that was all I had)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with rib meat
2 cups salsa (pick your fire power)
Taco seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Cook it on low for 9 months 8 hours-ish. Shred chicken. Place in corn tortillas (or whatever you prefer). Add your toppings. Gobble it up. Om nom nom!


– jennifer

Chickpea, cherry and ginger salad…and some other stuff

So, the past week and a half have been pretty busy for me. Firstly, I started a new job. That’s always stressful no matter how prepared or ready you think you are! They see great things in you and hire you but you come in clueless and behind the 8-ball. That can be pretty overwhelming,  especially if you’re an OCD perfectionist like me. 🙂 Hey, it’s not really THAT bad a fault! Anyway, I’m now “the new girl” and learning like crazy and working hard to catch up. I love actively using my brain all day long! Boredom does not suit me.

Now, because I’m at a new place,  I’ve had to give up a major perk of the old place – the on-site fitness center and the awesome people that work in it! Of course, friendships extend beyond the walls of the gym so I didn’t really lose the people, I only lost use of the facility. So, what’s a fitness geek like me to do without my fitness center? Finally join the Crossfit gym, of course! 30 days until the Salt Lake City marathon and I certainly don’t want to waste or lose all the strength I’ve gained doing interval and weight training! You know I’m going to need it to manage the hills and the altitude! And, why just deal with the stress of a new job all by itself when you can add the stress of a new gym and new people at the same time?! So, I started the Crossfit Foundations last week, too! Yes, I’m crazy, I know. My hubby (hereafter known as my Sailor because, well, that’s what he is) routinely refers to me as “nuckin’ futs.” Yeah, I love him, too. 🙂 Anywho, been learning a ton at Razor’s Edge and I’m loving every minute of it. Even the ring dips. Okay, so maybe not the ring dips. Tonight, I learn handstand pushups. Woot! See, I’m definitely crazy. 🙂


my new home away from home

Okay, okay, the salad. I know that’s why you’re really here. 🙂 Do you love the chickpea? I certainly do. Do you love healthy recipes that are quick and easy to put together and don’t require cooking? Who doesn’t?! Well, combine quick and easy and some chickpeas and you’ve darn near got perfection! Runner’s World often has great recipes in the magazine and that’s where I found this one – Chickpea, Cherry, and Ginger Salad. Um, hello, they had me at chickpea! This salad seriously comes together in less than 20 minutes and is the perfect combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fat to refuel after a run or a good workout in the box. I literally could eat it every day. Om nom nom!

Chickpea, Cherry, and Ginger Salad

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces feta

Combine all the above into a bowl. Whisk together 2 tablespoons each apple cider vinegar and olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over chickpea salad and mix well. Makes about 4-5 servings (depends on how hungry you are) 🙂