Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Peaking, Not Tapering

ORN [Obligatory Runing Note]: Cruise Intervals scheduled for later today. 2 mile warm up and cool down. 2 x 4.5 miles @ 1/2 Marathon Pace (8:17) pace w/ 0.50 mile recovery run in between.

Swimmers taper for an important meet; runners peak. We're different. Or should be. At least that's what I think.

If you read my blog (and why wouldn't you?) you know I ran a PR for 5K and 10K (and fully expect this trend to continue next weekend with my Half Marathon) at the end of some of my biggest training weeks, and I did it without tapering-i.e., a huge reduction in training--for it. I maintained a normal training week (speed, hills, mixed intervals) but instead of going long on Saturday, I ran a race-and ran well. I didn't get too worked up about it being a "race" either, because to me it was just another Saturday.

Ditto with my upcoming marathon. I decided that since I'm so terrible at this tapering garbage, I'm not even going to bother with it. Instead of an absurd, three-week reduction in mileage (and the staleness and indecision that goes with it), I'll just run what I normally would have and one of my best marathons ever. Maybe even BQ.

In fact, I've decided to never even use the word 'tapering' again. When I hear that word, I hear relax. To me, tapering means to reduce training and that everything is done. The proverbial hay is in the barn. Which isn't true at all.

No, I much prefer to peak for my marathon. I want to go into my race on December 12th on the upswing. I want to think, 'I'm on the rise. I'm going to run my best marathon ever'.

Just so we're clear- I'm not suggesting I'll maintain my new ridiculously high training volume of 75-90 miles per week in the final three weeks. But what I am suggesting is that too many marathoners taper way too much-they reduce their training too radically-and rather than bring their body to a peak, they fall into a mental and physical rut which they can't climb out of on marathon day.

I don't want to get into a wonderful training rhythm and all of a sudden switch it off before my most important race for no reason at all other than I've heard it's a good idea to taper. I don't want to get so stale so that when race day comes, I can't switch it back on again.

Instead, here's what I'm gonna do: In the final 10-12 days, I'll reduce my overall mileage somewhat, do some workouts faster than marathon pace, run several short workouts at 5-K or 10-K pace which are designed to bring me to a physical peak, and most importantly, I'll switch my mindset from a training mode to 'now is when I am ready to race'.

That's my plan. And it's an astonishingly simple plan:

Reduce the long run miles and easy day volume. Instead of going 20, two weekends out from Charlotte, I'll run 13-15miles. The next weekend I'll run 9-12 miles with five or six of those miles at marathon goal pace. This last "long run" is a very important final workout because it will keep me in my training routine of a weekend long one and it will also remind my body and mind that I'm a MARATHONER who is just about ready to roll for 26.2 miles.

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