I am in the last week of my training and also in the last week of the taper, with the marathon next Sunday! My excitement is growing by the day, and overall I feel pretty good.
Tapering is not as bad as I suspected it would be. It seems everyone goes a bit stir-crazy during the taper, but I seem to be taking it in stride. Maybe I am keeping myself busy enough I simply don’t notice it much. This may change though as the end of the week approaches and my miles are nowhere near the 30+ per 7 day period.
For those that don’t know, tapering is a gradual reduction in workout leading to the race. For the training schedule I was following it meant reducing my weekly miles from 40 to 30, then down to 24, then down to 9 prior to actually running the 26.2 mile marathon. (three weeks of tapering down) We do this because it gives our bodies time to recover/heal from the huge amount of running we did during the peak of our training. While the intensity of the running remains the same, the mileage is significantly less.
Along with the taper my body has sprouted some new pains. (this is common during the taper) During the height of my training I had no troubles at all, but that has come to an end. The past two weeks I have had some significant tightness/pain in my heel when taking my first morning steps out of bed each day. After some searching I found this is an indication of plantar fasciitis, but may also be caused by heel spurs. (not the kind that cowboys wear)
Plantar fasciitis is irritation and swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. Common causes are wearing sandals a lot (I am very guilty), and shoes with improper support. (I guess my extra soft running shoes are not good for me.) Fortunately, if this is my problem, it can be treated by doing some stretching of the calf muscle (see below) a few times each day, and doing some other exercises that involve pulling a towel towards me using only my toes while standing flat on my feet. (think of your feet eating a towel)
The calf stretch
A heel spur is a bit different and could be very problematic, even requiring surgery in some cases, so I will keep an eye on it and cross my fingers that it is merely a muscle issue that needs properly worked out. I am pretty positive it is not a spur, since I am not a heel striker which is the common cause of this type of injury. (I run on my toes, not my heel.)