The Tricky Taper

Saturday’s workout – Rest
Sunday’s workout – Rest
Monday’s workout – 5 miles @ 9:05 & 5 30 second intervals @ 8:00; Total 6.2 @ 9:04

Today’s workout: 45 minutes strength with Susan

It’s official – I’M IN TAPER MODE!!!  Thank you sweet baby Jesus!!!! Not only is the taper important but after this training plan my body needs it more than I ever thought.  I’ve obviously trained before but apparently I did not train hard enough because I’ve never begged for the taper like I have this time around.  During last week’s last tempo run of the plan, my mantra for the last 5 miles was, “Every step is a step closer to the taper.  Every step is a step closer to the taper!” Phew!

Now all this being said, I know that after one week of pull back I’m going to be antsy and at that point it will be so important that I keep myself in check.  Lets take a second to understand why because, if you’re like me, pragmatism can often keep you sane or at least following “the rules”.

In an article out on Runners World, they reference a paper published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine back in 1999 that reviewed more than 50 scientific studies on tapering to find out whether tapering betters performance.  Guess what – the majority of the studies found that, yes, it works and it works WELL!  Per the Runner’s World Article “Tapering for Optimal Race Performance”, “Most studies found an improvement of about 3% when athletes reduced their training before competition. This translates to more than five minutes for a three-hour marathoner or more than a minute for those racing 10K in 40 minutes.”  DUDE!!!!  If you miss your target time by minutes or even seconds, you’re going to be kicking yourself that you didn’t taper well.

Having read a few more recent articles, training plans, etc. it’s pretty apparent to me that those last three weeks have very little to do with actual physiological gain.  You’ve already done the work at this point, the proverbial “Hay is in the barn.”, so it’s more about maintaining a strong fitness level but there’s no gain in trying to gain more.  These last three weeks are mental.  Use that time that’s freed up in your schedule, “What do you do with that extra 90 minutes every day?!?!!?”, to hit up an extra yoga class or two.  Take some time to plan your outfit, review your food and drink plan for the race, and spend a few minutes practicing visualization.  Check out It’s Taper Time , a 2003 Runner’s world article, as it goes through the last three weeks step by step for both physical and mental preparation.

If you’re really going for it at a race and you’ve worked THIS hard for THIS long, take the appropriate time to make sure you’ve got all your logistics and overall wellness taken care of instead of logging some random extra miles.  Taper is part of the plan – not optional – at least that’s what I’ll be reminding myself of over the next 10 days!

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