This week is the first in a two-week taper towards the Mississauga Marathon on May 15th. In the past I have always done a three-week taper with a pretty significant [excessive] drop in mileage and intensity. After the Toronto Marathon in October, I started questioning whether I may have tapered too much. I decided that I would try a two-week taper next time, without dropping my mileage nearly as much as I had in the past. Running a few very successful races (including a marathon) without tapering reaffirmed this decision.
Tapering means cutting back your training, so that your body can rebuild to peak strength. Tapering allows your muscles to repair the micro-damage of intervals, your energy systems to store up glycogen, your body to overcome the chronic dehydration of hard training, and that last bit of tendonitis in your knee or ankle or hip to finally go away. [Pete Pfitzinger]
I know the importance of resting up and recovering, but I have also learned that tapering excessively can lead to feeling “flat” and even out of shape by race day. I need my legs to remember how to work hard and run long. Finding that fine line between “too much” and “too little” is key.
This time I am following something very similar to Matt Fitzgerald‘s approach to taper:
Two weeks before race day I run 20 miles. Endurance is the facet of running fitness that always comes hardest to me, so I like to have a fairly recent 20-miler in my legs when I start a marathon.
I maintain the same basic weekly workout structure during the taper as I do during the peak training period, but all of the distances are reduced. I do two high-intensity workouts during the week and a long run on the weekend. This week’s key workouts will be roughly 30% shorter than in the preceding week. Next week they will be 50-75% shorter. It’s important not to completely eliminate high-intensity running from your training during the taper period, because tapering is not strictly about resting up for your marathon–it’s also about priming your body for peak performance.
I’ll post a more detailed account of my taper in my next two weekly training recaps.
Over the last couple of years that Hubs and I have been running marathons, we have never had the same goal race. This means, for the first time ever, we are both tapering at the same time. Things are sure to get interesting at our house over the next 10 days – hopefully there won’t be any fights over peanut butter or pasta. 😉
At least we’ll be able to take turns being on weather-watch!
I know we’ll be able to offer one another the moral support we need to stay physically and mentally strong as race day draws near.
The best part will be
eating junk food celebrating and recovering together after the big day.
|Old pic (2008) but you get the idea!|