Monday, April 13, 2009

Taper Time

If you ask my husband what I like to read in bed at night, he will say,
"Ultrarunning Magazine...over and over again." He is correct. I am a student of the sport and love to get my hands on new training ideas and philosophies. I am particularly intrigued by the taper process, perhaps in part because after months and months of big miles, I am happy to cut back and chill. But I also dread the taper because somehow I find myself doubting my training and months of preparation...perhaps it's just endorphin withdrawal that is causing these doubts? In any case, today's post is on the taper because I am tapering for the Bull Run Run 50 on Saturday (the photo above, taken by Anstr Davidson, shows the glorious bluebells along the BRR course).

Back in October I attended an excellent information session on the taper that was geared for marathoners. I took away some valuable information that has really helped me in the months since. Specifically, I try to stay in my routine (stretching, strengthening, etc) as much as possible but with a cut-back in mileage. This taper for Bull Run is particularly challenging because I raced the Terrapin Mountain 50K on March 28 and had three weeks to recover, train, and taper again. Since many ultrarunners are often faced with multiple tapers since we like to race a lot, I thought you might be interested in what I did since March 28:

1st week (March 30-April 5): Mon: Swim, 20 mins. Tues: OFF. Wed: easy 4 mile/weights. Thurs: easy 5 miles. Fri: Swim 20 mins. Sat: 9 miles with 3 miles hill repeats. Sun: 9 miles with 4 miles at tempo on trails. Total miles: 27 miles

With the exception of the weekend runs, everything was run at recovery pace---very easy. The goal of this week was to recover, eat well, and sleep well.

2nd week (April 6-April 12): Mon:Swim 20 mins. Tues: 3 miles with 3 x 1:00 hill repeats. Wed: Swim 20 minutes. Thurs: 9 miles with 4 hilly miles at tempo (7:10 pace). Fri: Easy 8 miles on trails. Sat: Easy 8 miles on trails, lift upper body and core only. Sun: 8 miles with 5 miles at tempo (3 x 7:20 and 2x 7:05). Total: 36 miles

This was the "work" week...I ran as I felt but could tell I was recovered from the 50K enough to push the pace on the weekend. I still kept the mileage low but the runs were either quality or junk. The goal of this week was to keep the blood moving with quality work but in smaller doses, and to stay sharp by training on the same kind of trails (rolling singletrack) as the race.

This week: (April 13-April 17): Monday OFF. Tuesday, 4 miles easy with a few hill pick-ups. Wed: Swim 20 minutes. Thurs: 5 miles easy, stretch. Friday: OFF, Saturday, RACE DAY!

The goal of this week is to stay sharp with a few short runs, fuel and hydrate well all week, get quality sleep and keep the work and family stress at a minimum. I don't think we pay attention to weekday stressors enough...they can add up and impact our race day in a huge way.

I am helping a few friends get ready for the MMT 100 and am beginning to sketch out their taper period which will start around May 2. Depending on how my plan above works for BRR, I will incorporate a few of my "lessons learned" into their plans. For example, it is time for the MMT runners to start training as much as possible during the warmest part of the day on the rockiest, knarliest trail, to condition their bodies to the heat and their feet to the rocks (they should have been training all spring on rocks, btw).

I also have a few friends in taper mode for Boston, which is on Monday, April 20. Let's hear from some of you folks running Boston and compare how the Boston taper and the Bull Run taper differ!

As they say, we are all "experiments of one." I would love to hear what has worked for you in terms of the taper, and what hasn't. Share your ideas!


B.Gill said...

Wait, I'm supposed to be training during the warmest part of the day? Are you saying Chocolate Bunny was all for nothing? Darn, at least I got some chocolate out of it!

Enjoy the taper! Apparently you are one of the few who doesn't go crazy during this time... I know I sure do. See you at BRR!

Rick Gray said...

Sophie, As usual you have it all figured out. You are so poised for a great Bull Run. We appreciate your sharing of ideas with the rest of us. Good luck Saturday morning, as I am wishing you one spectacular day. Rick

Griffin said...

My taper is a little different, the Monday before my race i run 8 easy miles, Tuesday run 4 easy miles, Wednesday run 2 easy miles. Thursday a nice 2 mile WALK. Friday rest and Saturday race. This has worked well for me and i feel really rested going in.

Rick Gray said...

Well Sophie, the taper is over and you are primed to toe the starting line tomorrow morning. Best of luck for a grand race. Rick