Marathon build up is always an exciting time. A lot of miles and hours of training logged, a pair of shoes or two retired, and the satisfaction of working hard towards a goal (even when it doesn't work out the way you want). The last few years, though, it has been a bit of a sad time for me.
I was excited as my training outlook changed, moving away from grinding out two marathons a years, which took a lot of training and is a lot for me, to doing more racing, which was the whole reason for starting to run again in the first place.
So the past two years, as the taper period begins and my training volume decreases, regret and dissatisfaction set in. This year I had a little 4-month old to bounce around to keep my mind occupied, but in the past it hadn't been so. Moodiness (more so than usual), trouble sleeping, loss of energy, and more than anything, complete and utter lack of motivation are par for the course during the taper and the few weeks following the race.
This year has been much the same. Although it has been different in one regard - I've actually started to look forward to running again. In the past three weeks (marathon week and the two weeks following), I've spent about every waking second I'm not at work or taking care of my daughter on my computer punching through Excel spreadsheets, plotting my training volume.
And better yet, my wife and I have discussed planning our weekly activities so that we each get the time to do what we want (i.e. I can run at night X nights, but have to stay home and watch a movie with her Y night, or I vacuum the stairs and she cleans the bathroom Z night). Communication is always key, but with a little one rolling over every five seconds and two parents working full time, the only way to get things in is to make sure expectations are out there. Also, I'm lucky that my wife actually WANTS me to get out and run or bike or whatever (most of the time). She doesn't say it, but she can probably tell I have mor energy and am in a better mood when I do.
So I've called the last three weeks the Un-Taper, the time where I dial the training back up. Officially, this is week 3. My only goal this week is to get the routine going again. No focus on time or mileage or intensity, just doing the requisite activity at the requisite time, nothing else. Just stick to the schedule.
Last night I lifted weights for 30 minutes at 8 pm. Which is late for me. But it was what worked for last night based on the schedule my wife and discussed. Today I will hit the exercise bike at the gym over lunch - no predicated workout or time requirement - and on and on.
It feels good to be back. There is something about feeling like an athlete, even though I barely fit the profile. But that doesn't matter. Running, or anything other fitness related activity, is all about taking a positive step. Making yourself better. So I'm making myself better. It really does feel good to be back.