A state of limbo – it’s easy to confuse a bear of little brain

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Recovery or taper: taper or recovery?

Which is it?

What am I doing? What am I supposed to be doing?

Argh, my brain hurts.

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It is a state of limbo, and how do you cope with that? They say to embrace it for what it is. 

It is now, however, too late to figure it out as I am most definitely in taper territory, as it is now the end of July and I run the Global Odyssey Gobi 100k on 12th August.

In reality I have been both recovering and tapering. All things being equal this means lots of rest and easy training: a happy state of affairs. But it is vaguely disquieting and I am not sure why, as I have been here before back in 2013 when I used a series of events to achieve my fitness milestones prior to going to Antarctica.

At the beginning of the month I completed the great Glen Ultra (72.4 miles) with 5 weeks until the Gobi 100k. I took my customary recovery week where I do no more than a bit of walking. All good. Week two and I feel that I really should make an effort to resume training with some recovery sessions especially as I appeared to be recovering quickly and my energy levels felt good.


Ever the optimist I thought a few weeks of normal training but with reduced long runs of say ten to fifteen miles. First run: five strong miles. All good. First strength training session all good. Second and third runs not good. Indeed, I have to shame-faced admit the third run was less a run in the park and more lying sunning myself in the park and a gentle walk home. Perhaps not so well recovered after all. Week three was marginally better, but my sprint interval sessions ended after half the number of reps previously done. At this point, just weeks to go, the furthest I have run is six miles.

Clearly still recovering, and now with just 2 weeks to go I am officially tapering, but do not feel that it is justified. I should be ramping up again, but I don’t have time. What if I am starting to lose fitness? They say it starts to drop after just two weeks, but then how long does it take to recover after an ultra? The age old questions that we all battle. My brain hurts.

Nothing I can do now. The important thing was to recover well enough to take on the next challenge. They say that your fitness is set four weeks before an event and that there is nothing you can do to improve it further from that point, but that it is possible to have an adverse impact through over-training. That is one thing I can’t be accused of.

The proof will be in the pudding as they say; but in the meantime let’s see if I nudge this up a notch and try to get a sneaky wee ten or twelve miler in before I depart on the 7th of August.

Finally, what do we think? Will this strange limbo state give way to full on 'taperitis'?