Tapering training and how it’s magic.

Running summary for w/c 12th March
Miles: 16.5
Cross training: Lots of lunging and squatting…

Last week was an unplanned low mileage week. I have had some aches and pains in my right leg that needed resting – I was terrified of a repeat episode of my mysterious knee pain and pulling out of Berlin –  and so I took to doing lunges, squats, one-legged squats (I’m getting pretty good at these now), and clams in front of the TV instead. By sunday I felt confident enough to try a long-ish run and did 9 miles at a good, steady pace with no unexpected twinges or pains. Hoorah!

Yesterday marked the 2 week countdown to Berlin and the beginning of my two week taper. In the week or two leading up to a race it’s recommended that you reduce your training and recover in time for the big day. It is all about reducing cumulative fatigue, i.e. that feeling of overwhelming tiredness/hunger/irritability/achiness that sets in about two thirds of the way into training. During the taper your body will continue to tick over as usual, which means two awesome things:

  1. You can run just a fraction of the distance that you have become used to, and slow the speed down too without denting your fitness levels. This means more time with Hollyoaks and my flatmates, and less time in lycra smelling like crap.
  2. Your body takes a couple of weeks to catch on to the fact that you’re not running like a crazy person anymore and so it continues to store up all your food in an energy efficient manner. I do not understand the exact science behind this, but essentially it means that you should be bouncing with energy on race day and will have loads of energy reserves to call upon during the race.

It’s a bit like stretching a ruber band or a catapault… If you don’t use all of your energy up as is usual throughout training then your body stores it for a couple of weeks instead, ready to release when it catapaults me for 13.1 miles around Berlin. Weeeeee!!

I’ve never tapered properly before. I always say that I’m going to, but instead of running less I just kind of stop running altogether. This time I’m going to do it properly, I promise.

My taper plan is to cut back to about 60-70% average distance and effort this week, and to 50% next week. This means that my long run on sunday will be around 7 miles, with a hill session, 3-4 mile steady run, and swim thrown in mid-week. Next week will be trickier as I fly out to Berlin on the thursday, but I reckon I can fit my last threshold session in on Monday and go for a gentle jog on Wednesday before packing my suitcase. Not long now…

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One response to “Tapering training and how it’s magic.

  1. Pingback: Reluctantly tapering « Red Head On The Run·

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