Thursday, September 27, 2012

How do taper (physical, mental and food)

As important as tapering for a marathon (or any big race) is for your body to recover and rebuild physically it is such a mental game too. I think I right this post every marathon training cycle, the taper madness kicks in and my mind goes crazy with "what ifs" and "should haves". Time to push these thoughts away and remember I have already done what I could, nothing can be gained at this point, it can only be lost.

So how do we as runners who have just spent the last 4+ months training hard cut down on the quantity and intensity? The key is still working hard enough and getting in those quality workouts but easing back on the workouts and taking easy days to balance. Pete Pfitzinger has a great 3 week taper plan integrating the important workouts with easy days. This plan also advises an easy run the day before the race.

3 WEEK MARATHON TAPER

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Easy
Easy
Turnover
Easy
5 Mile Tempo
Easy
15-17 Miles
Easy
Easy
Easy
VO2 Max Session
Easy
Easy
11-13 Miles
Easy
Easy
Dress Rehearsal
Easy
Easy
Easy
Marathon
 Source: Pete Pfitzinger

The mental aspect is the toughest, I have such a tough time convincing myself that an extra rest day is fine at this point. I want to go and run and train! My body is in the push mode and ready to go. So what to do with this energy? Luckily (or not so) this week I have 2 papers to write to consume my time that I typically spend working out. What do you do to distract yourself during taper?

The other big taper issue is eating. With the decrease in mileage it is tough to remember not to eat like I was when my mileage and intensity was much higher, the last thing a runner needs is heading into race day with an extra few pounds. I am such a snacker that this is tough for me. Good planning and healthy options can balance this out. How do you deal with eating during taper?

8 comments:

  1. I love that you posted this! I am frustrated with the whole process, but trying to remember that it's all worth it. I am distracted by my thesis! For food, I am trying to listen to my body - it just doesn't need all the the rice and extra oats and bananas I was fuelling it with (it might take awhile to relinquish the chocolate!).

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    1. Thesis is always a distraction! Hope a good and not too stressful distraction for you.

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  2. I like the plan! For food, I just make my portions smaller and cut out one snack or dessert. But I tend to eat a lot because I'm trying to not lose any weight while training.

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    1. I wish I could cut out a snack! I am such a grazer that I feel like I am always snacking, sometimes mindlessly :(

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  3. What a great post! I'm going to definitely remember this when I taper for my marathon in January!

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    1. Thanks :) I seem to write something similar every taper because I forget how much it effects me!

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  4. I've got 2 weeks until I taper and yes, the eating is a problem. Also the phantom aches and pains.

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    1. Yes, that too, those aches that get you questioning a race stopping injury!

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