Tundra Trailblazer Jeff: Time to Taper


This morning we did the last 20 miler. April is ending (thankfully). The hay is in the barn so to speak – with our training. This April I ran 176 miles. More than I ever have before. I am somewhat trapped between satisfaction and disappointment. I am having some difficulty getting past the 16 mile point. Oh well, the hardest part is done. I have worked hard, as most of us have, this year. It is the first time that I have gotten over the 40 mile per week line without getting injured. A lot of the credit goes to the weight work that I put in as well as the gradual build up. Now, the idea is not to screw up all that hard work.

There is solid scientific evidence that the taper is an important part of race training. That taper should last about 3 weeks. There is a lot of calculus that goes into the exercise physiology of the taper. For our purpose, lets stick with a logical algebraic plan. The idea is to taper – not stop training. It is important to know that it takes about 13 days to gain a positive effect from a hard workout. So – no point in working hard within 13 days of the marathon.

It is generally accepted practice to gradually reduce your miles per week, your long runs and then the intensity of your workouts. A good rule of thumb is to run 85-90% of your weekly miles in the first of the 3 week taper. So for me, I’ll use 40 MPW as my peak. This week, I will cut my total mileage to about 35 miles.  Saturday’s long run will “only” be 12 miles. It is designed to run at the pace we have been running at. Don’t pick up the pace. Enjoy the fact that you won’t be struggling to climb stairs.

The second week of the taper, cut another 10 -15% off of your MPW.  I will drop down to about 30 miles. No high intensity workouts this week. My midweek workout will probably be a nice set of half mile repeats, and a little below marathon pace. Saturday’s long run will be cut to 8.5 miles. Remember when we built up to 8 and 9 miles runs this winter. It seems so much easier now. Enjoy it. You’ve earned this.

The week of the marathon, I might do 15 miles. All of them will be easy cruising miles. We should feel life coming back into our legs. Take it easy this week, Strong, fresh legs are key. Another thing, the week of the marathon. HYDRATE – HYDRATE SOME MORE. My normal water intake is a little more than a half gallon a day. I’ll do my best to double it that week. A growing number of experts are saying to run an easy mile or 2 run the day before the race to get the blood flowing. This year, I’ll try that as well. Enjoy the taper. We’ve earned it.

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