Thirteen days away from calling myself a Marathoner. I've heard all of the stories about "taper madness", and always wondered how I'd handle it. After one week, I'd say "very well".
Last week didn't start off too well, though. On Monday, I was battling a recurring calf problem after my 22 mile run the day before, and I was starting to worry that it would negatively affect me at MCM. But luckily, thanks to advice I received from all my great contacts on Daily Mile and Twitter, I was able to determine that it wasn't an injury that I had, but rather severe calf cramps due to inadequate electrolyte intake. I was hydrating with water very well, but I wasn't taking in enough salt & electrolytes to balance out what I was sweating away. I also determined, through researching the issue, that a major cause of this could very well have been my not taking a magnesium supplement I had been taking for over 5 years. I stopped taking the supplement about a month ago when I stopped taking my daily multi-vitamin, and coincidentally, my calf problems started shortly thereafter.
Apparently, a magnesium deficiency leads to leg cramps from poor electrolyte absorption, which is exactly what I was suffering. So I started drinking Nuun during the day and on the nights before my runs last week, took a GU right before my runs, and restarted my magnesium supplementation. My Wednesday & Friday 6 milers went off without incident. Friday afternoon, I took in a 60-minute lower body massage, and felt like a champ when I went out yesterday morning for my 14-miler.
In fact, I felt so good that I ignored the prescribed training plan for yesterday (8 miles easy, and the last 6 at marathon pace), and did all 14 at marathon pace. I felt that I needed to do that after a few weeks of scaling back the intensity due to my calf issues, with the promise to myself that the next 2 weeks would be all easy runs.
So I can say with confidence that my calf issues are a thing of the past. I know what I have to do to prevent a recurrence, and I can focus 100% now on having quality runs. I am actually glad for the taper, since the summer has been ridiculously humid, I believe I've worked fairly hard for this, and my body looks forward to the scaling back. All in the name of getting ready for October 28th.
This week, after finishing a 3.5 mile recovery run this morning, I've got easy 5-milers on Wednesday & Friday, and an easy 10-miler on Sunday. Marathon week, though, might be a different story. It may not be so much the taper madness than it would be the excitement and anticipation from being this close to reaching a life milestone.
Trust the taper!!