Tapering

One could argue, looking at my training log that I have been on one long taper for the Hoka Highland Flingsince the D33 in mid-March. So, as I have previously noted I am most probably under trained for the Fling, and will be happy to make the check point cut off and finish.

With only a week to go, I did a 6.7 mile run today (Saturday), will do a weight training session tomorrow and then spend most of next week resting and eating. No fast days next week either. I will stretch and do yoga, and I will most likely do a light weights session and either a couple of short turns on the spin bike or a gentle run of a couple of miles. The trick is to do enough to keep your head straight and your legs turning over, but not enough to tire you.

For the uninitiated, a taper, in running parlance is not a small candle but a gradual reduction of training effort before an event. The idea is that this will give your body time to recover from the training effort and for your energy levels to build up ready for the event.

With only 6 weeks between the two events I opted for 1 week rest, 1 week recovery (light effort and short distances), 2 weeks training and 2 weeks taper. That said, in the last week, which should have been a taper week, I managed to clock my highest mileage (including cross training on the spin bike) since the D33.

There are many thoughts on just how long a taper period should be, and what the %age reduction in mileage should be, and it is often dependant on the distance and difficulty of the event.  It is also quite a personal choice with no right or wrong approach. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

I probably do not take a particularly scientific approach. Back in the days when I did 10k events I did not taper but would rest for 3 days before a 10k event. It is similar with half marathons, fairly normal training, but a rest for 4 days before.  I do taper for marathons and ultra marathons.

Back when I first started running marathon distance I used to opt for an extended taper of  4 weeks. The last long run of 20 – 22 miles would be done 4 weeks before the event. My shorter mid week runs would then gradually reduce in distance and effort from about 8 miles to between 4 and 6 miles. My longer runs during taper would be 15, 13, and 10.The week before the marathon would be a rest week with some light sessions similar to what I will be doing this coming week.

These days it is a bit different. Tapers tend to be shorter and I generally opt for 3 weeks and sometime risk 2 weeks for a marathon. I listen to my body and go with what feels intuitively right.

Regardless of the length of taper the final week is a week to savour. You have done the work and the preparation. You relax, you sleep, you eat and get your head into the right place in whatever way works for you. For me; that is kit and food lists, a massage, eating plenty of good, wholesome food, and creating my mp3 compilation.