Taper week one:

Sunday – It always amazes me that no matter whether I’ve my alarm set or not, my body is alert at 5.30am. It was nice to be able to turn over and go back to sleep however as for the first time since well before I was diagnosed,
I felt like I had a cold. I was oddly excited by it…the first actual illness since cancer and something so normal, something that made sense, something that wasn’t life threatening and most importantly was something which was easy to deal with! At this point in marathon training it can be quite normal to catch a cold…a slight sign of overdoing things though! It will be something to watch for before the Manchester marathon next April too.
I had a relaxed morning, did my daily yoga practice and then went out. This was the day a Lonely Goat became un-lonely for a few hours. Helen and Jill travelled from Manchester to meet me, and we had a fabulous few hours chatting and cake munching….an honour and privilege to get to meet them.

Monday – I’d definitely got a cold! I suffer with chronic tinnitus and it was louder then even, my nose blocked or running and I felt tired…and angry! Short fuse day indeed!
My morning run started in the dark and ended just over an hour later in lovely morning light and bird song.

I thought it would be hard to stick to a zone 2/3 run given my laboured breathing, however I only hit zone 4 for the couple of minutes when I realised I was bursting with a call for nature and it seemed the population of Derbyshire was coming past me in a car! Otherwise I kept my heart rate calm and low, found my flow and just took in the world…the sound of leaves blowing along the road, the crows waking ready to go wherever they go off to during a day, the sheep munching loudly – the few drops of rain keeping me cool and the air clear. It was soothing, this is how taper runs should be.
I got back and changed…no shower due to it being a double day and spin class at 9am. I loved my last class pre-marathon, I’ll miss the people and fun it brings into my life over these next few weeks. I know my body will thank me in just under a fortnight’s time and not going back to it too quickly post marathon will aide my recovery no end.
I always have a scoop of Rego post spin to aide recovery, it’s something I started doing during chemo…and realised benefits me hugely, I used to get back tired and hungry…sometimes aching badly. Now I don’t have any of those issues – pause for thought fellow runners and think about your nutrition and recovery techniques across all your training, not just your runs!
Work felt like a blur, I have never been so thankful to sit near a window…fresh air filling my lungs all afternoon which I knew would help my cold no end. My supervisor prescribed a drop of Scotch on getting home…I got in, popped a lemon and thyme roast chicken in the oven and poured myself a dram!

Tuesday – The drop of Scotch helped, I woke with my head clearer and my nose feeling less bunged up anyway!
As it’s the start of my taper the need to look after my legs was huge, however I still needed to maintain my strength. I therefore did 50minutes of upper body strength training, then 10minutes core work. My daily yoga targeted hips and lower back, with great releases for both…I clicked like crazy but felt so much better afterwards.
With being under the weather I rested during the morning, kept my fluids up and did an hours studying before taking to the sofa with my book.
I had a good afternoon at work and the afternoon passed fast. Going straight home and not to spin felt odd, bit actually quite nice as I’d forgotten my paracetamol and my cold had started to make me feel bunged up again.

Wednesday – I woke a bit more blocked nosed than what I’d gone to bed, but by the time I’d warmed up and got outside I was able to breath more easily. I took my 8K slowly, keeping it to heart rate zones 2 and 3 but with a nice bit of hill ascent and descent in the middle. It was drizzly and foggy but the rewards from nature were huge…so much beauty in the trees, the sunlight, the birdsong – it was a soulful run that left me happy and invigorated. Perfect for National Fitness Day!

Once home, given the time, I put on my yoga top and had breakfast before doing my daily yoga practice to ease into the day….Peaceful Warrior, moves taken slowly and calmly.
Some days it’s nice just to take everything as it comes, no rush. A delayed shower, a coffee while reading the mail, then a short walk in the field before lunch all left me happy and peaceful ready for work….midweek madness.

Thursday – The weather forecast was showing 15C and dry…but I could swear I could hear more than the river outside. As soon as I was out the door the realisation of rain in the muggy darkness lifted me. It’s been a while since I had a rainy run and I love them. I couldn’t control my heart rate and keep it down…my heart was souring and I felt happy! I decided an even pace, a soulful run with a bit of smaller incline would all be fine. Yes it was mostly anaerobic, yes I was a bit more breathless and tired towards the end, but I’d had fun. The leaf I saw moving in my torch light…well, turned out wasn’t a leaf…

I jumped and splashed in puddles, got drench and muddy and came home in the morning dawn light beaming! Just a tad chilly as by then it had dried up and the temperature had dropped. A hot shower soon revived me and I grabbed my mat for another session of hip and lower back release yoga.
I’d been invited to a coffee morning on Friday and so spent Thursday morning baking – one lemon tray loaf and an egg-less chocolate cake.

At work my back started to niggle and by mid-afternoon I felt uncomfortable, then my colleague mentioned how high I was sitting. Chair corrected again I felt a lot more comfortable but made sure to do my back release exercises as soon as I got home.

Friday – I woke shockingly alert and barely any sign of my cold. With tapering I only did my 30minute upper body strength training, but added in more reps. I then had just under an hours yoga – covering an older Arms & Abs session but also one for social anxiety. I felt excited to be going to the Macmillan coffee morning at Hope Works, but also a tad nervous…I knew I’d feel emotional and so a little calming yoga beforehand was a huge help.

People had been so generous and there were some beautiful bakes at the sale. The ladies were doing a great job of looking after the waves of people who came in to buy goods and raffle tickets.
Leaving work felt odd and emotional, around this time last year I’d worked a month and walked out to start my long term sick leave. We had my first hormone injection pending and a holiday in Scotland while the side effects hit, before coming home to start chemotherapy. It felt reassuring to be able to leave my personal items at work ready for returning in just a fortnight…to know that normality, instead of brutal sickness, would follow.

Saturday – I had everything ready for my last long run, apart from potentially a cocky attitude and the fact my cold still hadn’t shifted. Twice on Friday I’d said to people “oh I’m only doing 10miles in the morning” like it was nothing, easy, normal. The fact is 10miles is a long way, thankfully it wasn’t raining but it was relentlessly windy…I don’t know how I would have coped with both!

During taper weeks you can feel heavy legged, sluggish, fatigued, bloated, run down and generally a bit meh. It’s completely normal and I felt I had everything stacked against me. It was really hard to keep mentally focused and positive, finishing felt…not a relief as expected…it felt sad – job done…it felt scary – marathon next!

After a good bit of thought (stretching, coffee and food) I managed to find the positives – I’d slowly increased my speed and been mindful of my pacing, I was never breathless and didn’t allow myself to struggle, I bossed the inclines and didn’t let my legs get fatigued, I came home feeling like I’d not just run 10miles.
Thanks to the awful weather we had a day of just relaxing around the house before my evening out with friends. We went to a local Caribbean Restaurant…Stella’s. It has to be the best, most unique dining experience in this area, because this isn’t your average eatery, this is a lady who feeds you in her own home. Following a warm greeting from Stella we were seated in her conservatory – just three tables of us around a cosy log burner. Starters were brought out and music put on in the background. Our main course was served buffet style from Stella’s kitchen, the twinkling notes of Strictly emanating from the living room, a chance to chat with our host.

Once plates were cleared Stella gave us time to rest and talk…while she made dessert. It was the most wonderful three hours, the food divine and the atmosphere so friendly and peaceful.

Sunday – I feel full of energy, still slightly full from our evening meal out and full of happiness.
The Libra new moon is on the rise, for those of us under its sign this is a time of rebirth, a change to see ourselves more clearly, expand and evolve!

Every morning is a symbol of rebirth of our life, so forget all yesterday’s bad moments and make today the most beautiful day of your life – Buddha

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