Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Figuring Out Taper Time

I've recovered from my 22-mile run.

Whistle... whistle...

Okay, I haven't quite yet. I mean, I ran a recovery run on Monday and all but I'm still feeling the effects from the run. By effects I mean my legs feel a bit more fatigued than normal, maybe a small amount of soreness and they just feel like resting, not so much running.

I still plan on running today but it may not be a monster long run. In fact, it will probably be in the 3-mile range, give or take. But that's fine because it's Taper Time.

What the heck is Taper Time?

It's the time when you rest up for a race, essentially. It's important for all race distances (5K, half, etc.) to rest before a race but in my opinion it's crucial only if that distance is a full marathon. Just seems to me you could still run a half marathon if you are properly trained without having to drastically change up your training plan.

How will my training plan change? I'm not quite sure, to be honest. Much like a marathon itself, tapering is something you experience only when training for a marathon. So I have not encountered this since March/April of 2011, and even then it was a bit different.

I consulted two sources to see about Taper Time. The first, Hal Higdon, suggests in one of his training plans to cut back the mileage this way: seven weeks before the race, the plan has you running 44, then 36, then... 43, 35, 43 and then Taper Time - 32, 24 and 9 in the week leading up to the marathon. So the plan goes from 43 to 24 in two weeks, a reduction of almost half the weekly miles.

The other source, The Competitive Runner's Handbook, suggests tapering with caution. The author claims he loses some of his edge and mental toughness if he takes too long of a rest, and I kind of agree with that. If I'm not running, I'm regressing. That's just how I feel about my body and how it handles rest. For an intermediate plan, he has you running 40 miles the week of your last long run, then dropping down to 32 and 25, with 13 miles the week leading up to the marathon.

I've been averaging 41 miles a week since the start of the year, but one week I only got 25 (I got sick). So the figure should be more around 45 - since that's a nice figure I'll use that to guide myself here. In one of the book's more advanced plans, the weekly miles mirror mine better. The week of the last long run has you running 55 miles - I ran 57 miles last week. It then drops down to 42, 32 and then 14 the week before the marathon.

So that should be my figure then, around 40-42 miles this week, then in the low 30s the next with some short, easy runs the days leading up to LA.

This week then could look like this:

M:  4
T: 3
W: 6
Th: 8
F: 4
Sa: 5
Su: 12

I think that adds up to 42 :)

Anyway, this will be a fluid plan but the overall goal is to keep the miles and runs a bit lower while maintaining the intensity. Not all of these runs will be in the 11-minute per mile range, for instance.

Hopefully this does well to keep my legs engaged while allowing them to prepare for 26.2 miles.

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