Runner’s World Review – Tapering!

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

October 2012 – Tapering? Wrap It Up With A Burst

I was super tempted to pick the article about pancakes this month since they are one of my favorite meals (I somehow managed to convince GD to eat them once a week for dinner for a glorious stretch in 2009, but he eventually got pancaked-out. This was a period where I really questioned whether we were meant to be or not).  BUT since the Philly marathon is 16 days away (freak out: ohmygoditcantbehereyetiamnotreadyineedmorespeedworkandhillsandGULP!) and I am smack dab in the middle of taper, this really appealed to me and my obsession with all things marathon right now (not to be confused by my regular obsession with all things marathon – this one is more specific to just my race and Philly versus a more broad one. It’s like specialist versus generalist species– normally any old plant will do, but right now I need eucalyptus and only eucalyptus!).

Anywho, for those that are not in the throes of tapering and have no idea what I am talking about, it is the period before a race when you reduce mileage in an effort to rest your body and mind for the big day. The longer the race, the longer the taper. For a marathon, it usually begins 3 weeks before the run. The first week you usually run 80-90% of your normal weekly mileage, second week do 60-70% and the final week about 30-50%.

It’s a tough period for most runners because at this point in training you have gotten really used to long, hard weeks. You reduce mileage and think it will feel great to rest – but instead you often just feel restless. The closer you get to race day, and therefore the less you run, the more you convince yourself that you are an out of shape mess destined to blow up on the course and barely be able to finish, much less  reach any of your goals.  And this is where the article comes in to save the day!

In my first marathon and even in Chicago, I was under the impression that tapering meant less miles at a slow pace. This did lead to me feeling lethargic during taper. A few years ago (while training for the Philly Half 2010) I read that tapering should be a reduction in volume, but not intensity (I find this especially true for me in weeks 1 and 2 of taper). This article reinforces that idea and I have found that still doing some speedwork and marathon pace workouts REALLY help me keep my shit together during these “tough” weeks.

I usually prefer to take it super easy during that last week – my body does respond really well to rest and slow/no runs in the few days before a race and I probably won’t mess with that too much on this training cycle. However, I am planning on trying a few short intervals/striders on my Tuesday workout of race week. I also came across this video on Competitor.com (great website, I am a fan) that talks about carb loading and a quickie Saturday (day before the race) 3-minute workout that supposedly makes the most of your glycogen orgy. I am not sure if I am going to try it – anyone out there have experience with this or is it voodoo marathon madness?

How do you taper?

What does your race week training look like?

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