Taper Time

It’s the end of another week of training and I only have three more weeks until I run my 7th marathon! 🙂 Yesterday I ran my final 20 miler and concluded my highest mileage week of this training period (40 miles). That means it is time to taper for the big day on September 17th!

In every training plan I have used there has been a taper period at the end. This usually involves a final 20 miler (the peak of your training) three weeks before race day, and then a gradual cut back of mileage and intensity over the next three weeks. This is to give your body a chance to rest and recover so that it’s strong and ready to run when race day comes.

Tapering sounds great – more rest, less running, right? Well, it’s not always that easy. Sometimes as your body heals from training there are little aches and pains that come out that can be worrisome, but I just try to remind myself it’s not a big deal and it’s just my body getting stronger and recovering. Also, when you are used to running so much it can be hard to cut back. For example, tomorrow morning I have only 2 miles on my schedule! That sounds crazy because I could do more than that, but I know I need to let my body go through the tapering process and not push too hard. This taper is actually coming at a good time, because I am about to start school again and will have a lot less time in the mornings.

Here is my basic taper plan:

Mileage: After running 40 miles this week, I will be running 23 next week, followed by 22 miles the week after that, and 10 miles the week of the marathon. My long runs will be 12 this Saturday, then 8 next Saturday.

Intensity: My training plan actually keeps the intensity of my runs the same. In past plans most of the speed work and tempo runs end during the taper. I will be continuing to do some speed work at the track and tempo runs, but the total mileage will be less than before. I think this will be good to help me remember what my race pace feels like.

Cross Training / Strength Training: I have already started cutting back on my spin classes because they were not benefiting my long runs anymore. I noticed that my legs were super heavy and tired when I was taking spin in the second half of my training plan. I think I will continue to hold off on spin until after the marathon, and if I do take it I will keep the intensity easier than before. I will continue to take Body Pump until the week of the marathon. I’m taking that week off because I know that it will not help me on race day in any way and may actually hurt my performance by stressing my body too much.

Nutrition: My goal for the next three weeks is to eat as cleanly as possible without eating too much while cutting back on running. In past training plans I have continued eating the same during the taper as I did during my high mileage weeks, because my body was so used to it and I thought I was hungry. This led to unwanted weight gain which made running on race day much more difficult. I need to make sure I’m not eating too much and eating as well as I can. I already eat well at home but we will be cutting back on going out to eat and DESSERTS especially! (We love dessert).

Hydration:  Water, water, water, especially the week of the marathon. I already drink tons of water so this isn’t a problem. I also plan to cut back on alcohol. I usually stop drinking the month before a marathon but it’s too late for that (haha). I had some wine tonight but I think I’m done until the night after the race. Then I may have to indulge in a little tequila (my favorite!)

Sleep: Just get more of it! With school and grad school starting up again this may be a challenge but we’re going to try for 8 hours a night (that’s hard to do!)

Here is my weekly run down:

  • Monday: 6 mile run (59:55 / 9:59 pace) + Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 7 mile run (1:05:33 / 9:21 pace) + moving my friend into her new apartment (tough strength training!)
  • Thursday: 7 mile run (1:06:05 / 9:26 pace)
  • Friday: Body Pump (1 hour)
  • Saturday: 20 mile run (3:15:27 / 9:46 pace)
  • Sunday: Rest

Let the taper begin!

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One response to “Taper Time

  1. Have fun with your taper! I never seem to do this right myself.

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