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It’s Time for the Taper Time

If you get the song reference then you win the prize of the day… 

With training at high intensity and mileage, there comes a point (and need) to taper and run less.  Whether you are tapering for a race or just cutting your mileage, it’s a necessary part of training to stay injury free.  Tapering is a topic that many runners struggle with.  The goal for taper isn’t to make you go crazy…it’s to rest your body from mileage you have put in during the training cycle.

Tapering can be one of the most important aspects of your training.

Now that you are running less…what do you do with this new found extra time?

To be honest I don’t know what advice to give. I find myself wasting my normal running time on the internet (Honesty is the best policy right?).  I’m not even good at sleeping in like most tapering articles recommend. 

I don’t have advice about how to deal with “taper crazies” because honestly tapering is a part of racing.  If you want to run well at a goal race, tapering is a necessary part of the process.  Similar to advice on how to run on the treadmill (you just do it), my advice for cutting mileage is: you just do it.

In my experience there are a few things that can pass the 1-2 hours of extra time you somehow have for a few weeks:

  1. Blog more frequently! Instead of posting once a day, up your game to 2-3 daily posts.  I can even edit my posts for grammar and spelling mistakes!  #somuchfreetime
  2. Go out to eat with friends. Now that you are running less, you have more time to go out to restaurants and eat. 

All joking aside, I’ve been asked about my tapering plan for Phoenix.  This is my second marathon and I am still trying to figure out what works for me.

For NYCM, I peaked at a 100 mile week.  For about 4 weeks, I slowly tapered down to 80, 65, 50 and then 30 miles.  During that time I also moved 2000 miles which made it easier to run less.  I found my legs felt good during the race.  I don’t think it was a bad taper at all.  That isn’t the taper I will be doing this year though.

A photo of me running a marathon.

A photo of me running NYCM

This tapering and training is different for many reasons.

  • I’m coming off an injury. While my stress fracture was 6 months ago (WOW 6 months), I am still coming off an injury.  My highest mileage week was 73 (last week).  I had many quality runs but my peak mileage was 30 miles less than last time.
  • I completed my last long run 17 days before the race. With NYCM, I ran my last long run a full 3 weeks before the race.
  • I’m not driving 2000 miles and moving during taper. I think this is self-explanatory.

My tapering for Phoenix will be reasonable.  I plan to cut down my mileage down to 40-50 miles this week and then 30 next week.  When I did a mini taper for my 10 mile race in January, I ran a very solid and motivating time of 1:07.  I think I will use a similar (but more tapered) version of that for my marathon.

  • This week I plan to take 2 rest days and next week I will take 3 complete rest days.  For me personally, if I take more rest days my legs will feel stiff.
  • I’ll also be getting a deep tissue massage this week.

I’m not an expert on running, marathon training or tapering.  Tapering is personal and you must figure out what works the best for you.  During the next two weeks I’ll focus on posting about little things I’m doing to work towards my goal race such as perfecting nutrition and tapering (including articles I’ve found helpful and interesting).

Here are some more qualified opinions and articles about tapering though:

10 Marathon Taper Tips

The Art of the Marathon Taper

Also Amanda just wrote a post about tapering for her marathon the same weekend.  A great read!

Questions for you:

How do you taper? What do you spend your time doing?

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I Trust Myself. I Trust My Taper.

A lot of people don’t care for taper.  I’m not a lot of people.  I think the combination of not liking to rest, questioning was your training good enough and having so much free time can get to your head.  For me personally I really enjoy tapering and letting my body relax.  When I tapered for swimming I would constantly remind myself of all the things I did throughout training to get to this point.

During this training cycle I remind myself of the four 20+ miler runs I did.  I also remind myself of the 7 miler I ran directly after the Rock and Roll VA Beach in 80+ degree heat, the 16 miler I ran at goal pace and the pretty consistent miles I put in.  I remind myself daily that I have put in the miles and this is my time to rest and relax.  No amount of training I do right now is going to better prepare me for the race besides…not cramming in miles.  I am cutting my miles by 20% each week and adding a little more speed.

This is my time to rest and recover.  My time to do other things and focus on other things…like blog writing (kidding).  Actually this is my time to focus on other things like hanging out with friends and family and also honing in on my nutrition.  (a post I’ll probably do at another point).  While running is a huge deal of my life, it does not define me.  I want to say when I’m not training I have other things going on in my life.

So my general opinion is that I enjoy taper.  Though I have never fully tapered for a running race I have tapered for plenty of swimming championships.  You must trust your training and trust yourself that you are ready for this race.  I have had both great and poor tapers for swimming.  Some tapers I have swam my best times of the season or my life.  Some tapers I have swam personal worsts and I think the last 2 weeks before any race or meet are the most important.  The delicate balance of being too rested and stiff versus not enough rest and stiff is hard and the threshold is different for everyone.

So yes the last two weeks can truly make or break your race by not listening to your taper.

I trust myself.  I am ready.  I trust my taper and my training.  I trust my body to carry my across the finish line of New York City.  If that is a 3:10 great.  If that is a 4:10 great because I finished.  I truly stand by my comment that finishing a marathon in itself is a great feat and for someone to complain about finishing their first marathon is ridiculous.  The marathon humbles even the best and most prepared runner.

Question for you: Do you like taper? 

1 Week to Go (NYCM) 54 miles

This week in workouts was a combination of taper and I’m so busy I don’t have time or energy to workout.  There I said it.  It’s been fairly good that my week of taper has coincided with moving, looking at houses, traveling, being at home, being ultra busy and every other excuse I can think of.  As I said before I have absolutely no idea what a good running taper is.  I’ve researched and looked at various articles but it’s my first taper for a running race. (swimming I just followed a coaches plan). If this plan doesn’t work, it doesn’t and I know next time I run a marathon not to do this.  I know a lot of things not to do next time training for a marathon but that is a post all to itself.

Monday: 12.23 miles Charlotte, NC. 
Tuesday: Cross train (elliptical)
Wednesday: 11.12 miles home, fast finish (8:25 overall pace)
Thursday: Off
Friday: 7.22 progressive run
Saturday Wicked 10k (39:28) (total 11 miles)
Sunday 12.75 miles
Total: 54 miles

Thoughts:

As most articles suggested, the second week out is the time to reduce mileage by around 20-25%.  I’ve gone 102 miles-80 miles-54 miles.  So that is falling about into that. (a little more actually). My legs honestly did not feel as good as I was hoping with the cut of mileage.  Hopefully they will continue to feel better.

The Wicked 10k on Saturday went extremely well.  I’ll have a recap tomorrow but the weather and course made it for a fast race.  I was only 8 seconds from my PR and with no speed work I should be happy.  Am I happy?  I’m pretty happy but alas a 10k PR would have been nice too, especially since I have reduced my mileage.

My last high effort run yesterday went according to the plan.  The goal was to start off easier (8:30 pace) progress and hold for a few miles at goal marathon pace (7:15) then push the envelope a little more and drop down to 7:00 minute pace. Even with not wearing racing flats, I was able to do this so it was certainly motivating.

When I had bad tapers with swimming, I never felt good and found myself feeling sluggish at the start of the race.  (I swam the 1000m and mile in college).  As much as I tried to swim fast, I just felt like I had no turnover or speed.  Hopefully that isn’t the case here.

Next week I’m cutting my miles again with a few miles spread out at marathon pace.  Nothing left to do but continue to rest and mentally prepare for the race.  As I’ve said throughout this training cycle my primary goal for this marathon is to finish.  Would I love to run a 3:10?  Yes, of course, however with waiting around a cold start for 3 hours as well as running a very overcrowded race it’s very tough to say what will happen.  I know if I cross the finish line as happy as when I start, I will be happy.

Questions for you:

What was your first marathon goal?

What is your most confidence boosting workout? 

The Travelers Miles (80)

This week I’ve essentially been on the road and trying to continue my training.  As you may or may not know, I’m headed back to Virginia (home) and hope to get back tomorrow night.  Though if I don’t,  no big deal as I don’t have a time crunch to actually get back there.  That’s why we have spent the last week on the road and just taking things as they come.  We make awful time, stop at multiple places along the way and run a lot.  I fully enjoy it.  It’s nice to not have any pressure to get back quickly.

Monday: Home OFF: Recovery from last weeks 100 mile week…I didn’t move from the couch for about 8 hours besides to eat and use the rest room.  That is not an exaggeration. I should have been packing to move but didn’t even have the energy for that.
Tuesday: Home 13.2 miles untimed
Wednesday: Houston, Tx 12.63 miles untimed
Thursday: Louisiana 13.1 miles untimed
Friday: Pensacola, Fl 13.67 miles (8:30 with 2 miles 7:30)
Saturday: Atlanta Haunted Hustle XC 5k (19:15) total: 11 miles
Sunday: Charlotte 16 miles progression (8:04 overall pace)
Total: 80 miles

Thoughts:

The first three days were spent solely not caring about pace and just getting through the miles.  I took Monday off because I needed to recover.  I honestly felt like if I didn’t take Monday off I would have done damage to my body.  I also don’t think I could have actually run as I was so exhausted.  I enjoy rest days (when they come because they are needed) and having easy days. I fully enjoyed bonding with the couch (and avoiding packing) all day long.

The rest of the week was spent just getting in the miles.  I knew my body was going to be tired.  I had no incline to push the pace, the goal of this week was to get high mileage while traveling and no injure myself.   Friday, I added some quicker miles to prepare me for my first 5k in close to 3 months.

The race in Atlanta was about how I expected it to be.  It was a cross country 5k and I haven’t run anything in the low 6 minute pace since my arm broke in August.  I haven’t run a cross country race since early June either.  (I love cross country though!).  It was nice to shock my body into it and after driving 1200 miles and not being rested (or tapered) it was about how I thought.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a PR but still a great time.

My long run went perfectly.  It was in a cross country park in Charlotte and the weather was beautiful.  I started around an 8:30 pace and then progressed to a 7:30.

Next week/Taper Thoughts:

I’ve never fully tapered for a half marathon and never run a full marathon before.  When tapering for swimming championships I had a mix of having the best race of the season post taper as well as having slower races then in the season.  I plan to slowly cut down my miles and hopefully my legs will feel fresh for the race.  I don’t know how this taper will go but I have my life to run marathons.  If this isn’t the best race ever then I can train and try new things next year.  Though my goal has been 3:10 this entire process, finishing a first marathon is truly an accomplishment in itself.

Questions for you:

Do you do deal well with taper?

Are you a good traveler?

I’m not, I’m a really high maintenance traveler.  I always need to stop and use the rest room, am hungry, thirsty and everywhere in between.  I don’t know of anyone who enjoys traveling with me.

84 Miles=Happy Hollie

Ah yes, the weekly training blog.  This week was a very high mileage week for me and in fact, my highest lifetime mileage week. The temperature just really jived with my running and I was able to wake up early and get my miles done.  So in short, everything clicked. 

Running: 84 miles

Swimming: 7000 meters

I’ll start with running. Most of my runs have been relatively easy with a few striders here and there.  My only moderate (tempo) run was at our local summer series race on Tuesday night.  It is a legit “race” but it’s more a fun type of thing.  No one goes there to race and elbow bitches out of the way because it’s so hot and that isn’t the atmosphere  Most people go for a tempo type fun run.  It’s just fun.  I ran 3.4 miles at a 7 minute pace.

My other fast workout was some speed I did on Friday I was originally supposed to have 3X1 miles but my body could not handle that.  I changed it to 12X400s at the same pace but having that extra rest allowed me to make my target times.

Was it frustrating?

Yes, a little bit but I have to remember where I’m coming from (last year and my stress fracture).  The pace I was running this year would be a dream for me last year.  I am improving by a lot and keeping that in mind kept me going.

On to swimming…I swam twice.  Once I did 3k and once I did 4k.  Easy and mindless to keep weight off my legs.   I enjoy my pool time because it gives me some personal time to just relax and get some cross training in.

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Moving on to next week:

Next week is a taper week for me.  I’m very excited and it’s my biggest race of the summer!    The year before last year (2010) I won, last year I stress fractured-so I would like to win again.  😉  This particular race is a 1k run on the beach, followed by a 1k swim back in the ocean, then getting out and running a 5k on the boardwalk.

2 years ago

The boardwalk is hard and concrete and obviously the most type of stress you can put on your legs.  This year, I’m much more ready though.

Last year being supported so I could even stand.

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Running wise this week, I’ll probably get about 40 miles in next week and swimming another 7000 meters.  My running will be quicker.

I will hopefully do a tempo run (around 6:30 pace) on Monday followed by Speed on Wednesday and take Thursday off.

So yes, an easy dropping off week to me.  This will allow my muscles to repair a bit and also prepare me for a (hopefully) fantastic race on Saturday. 

Question for you:

1.       What do you do when you struggle with workouts?

2.       What are your workout plans this week?  Any races? 

3. Do you enjoy tapering?  

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