In the past, the majority of my exercise routine while training for a half marathon was running. I’d usually run 3-4 days a week and throw in strength training and/or cross training 1-2x/week, if possible. The main focus of my weekly exercise was running. So in the past, when it’s come to my pre-race week taper, I just lower my mileage and intensity.
For example, my taper plan before the Carlsbad half marathon in January looked like this:
- Saturday before the race: 8.5 mile easy long run
- Sunday: rest
- Monday: 5 mile pace run (9:10 min/mile pace)
- Tuesday: Easy 5 mile run
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Easy 3-4 (can’t remember and didn’t log it)
- Friday: Rest/walk around expo
- Saturday: Very easy 1 mile
I carbo-loaded starting Thursday for this race, ate a banana, bagel and peanut butter on race day, and ended up PRing with 1:59:26.
P90X and Marathon Training Taper
When it comes to tapering for this next race, I’m quite conflicted. First, we are training for a marathon in June, not a half marathon in April. Our running group coach had us run our longest run to date last Saturday, which included the massive hill that we will be conquering on Saturday during the half marathon. Not an easy run. Second, I’m trying to finish my first round of P90X without taking too many shortcuts. We already substitute Kenpo for our long runs, and I don’t want to skip a bunch of P90X workouts due to the race. Therefore, my pre-half marathon taper during P90X and marathon training looks like this:
- Saturday before the race: 14 mile run, 1.5 miles up a 6% grade hill
- Sunday: P90X Legs and Back and Ab Ripper
- Monday: Rest
- Tuesday: AM – P90X Chest, Shoulders and Triceps & Ab Ripper; PM – 5 mile easy group run
- Wednesday: P90X Plyometrics
- Thursday: P90X Biceps and Back & Ab Ripper
- Friday: P90X Yoga X
- Saturday: 1 mile easy jog & walk around race expo
- Sunday: RACE!
I originally had decided to skip plyometrics and throw in a easy 4 mile run on Thursday, but decided that I didn’t want to miss my last plyometrics exercise before we finish our first found of P90X. Plus, I think plyo burns more calories and builds more strength than a 4 mile run. Last, I’m working long hours at work and it’s not feasible for me to get in 2 workouts on Thursday. It may seem risky to only run 1 time before the race, BUT I think it’s ok because 1) I usually only run 2 times during the week and 2)I’ve skipped my Thursday run before and had a GREAT run that Saturday (8.5 miles at a 8:50 pace which felt “easy”) and 3) I ran only one time before AFC due to a bruised foot. I actually think that hardest part is going to be trying to convince myself NOT to run on Thursday. Part of me wants to get out and do a 3 miler but at the end of the day, it’s not going to help and I know rest is better.
The reason I’m most conflicted about this race is that I know that PRing isn’t my main goal, but it’s hard not to think about it! Both of the girls I’ll be running with will be aiming for under 2 hour half marathons, and I know that my competitive spirit will keep me right there with them, no matter how painful it is! Reducing the intensity and number of my workouts this week would definitely help me on Sunday, but in the long run, I’ll be better off if I stick to my schedule.
Ah, the importance of sleep before a race. Unfortunately, this week is my busiest week of the month at work plus I have some other obligations. I’m aiming for at least 8 but have fallen short so far. I’m hoping that 7-7.5 hours per night until Friday will be fine and then Friday night I plan to get at least 10 hours in. We have to leave our house at 5:50 a.m. on Sunday morning so that’ll be a 5 a.m. wakeup call. We’ll try to be in bed by 9:30 on Saturday.
I feel like I’m already carbo-loading during Phase 3 of P90X due to the 3 servings of whole-wheat carbs I’m allocated a day, plus the double serving of fruit that I’m allowed. However, starting Friday I will be switching from high-fiber whole grains (ie oatmeal, whole wheat couscous, brown rice) to white grains. Since I don’t eat a lot of fat on P90X, it will be easy to avoid this pre-race no-no food (other things to avoid are high fiber and high dairy foods). The night before the race, I’ll have my pasta with low-fat chicken sausage dinner that has been my pre-race meal for every race so far. Starting Friday, I’ll be eating fruit, granola bars, cereal, pasta, greek yogurt, low-fiber bread, frozen yogurt, pita chips, and of course a moderate amount of protein and “good” fat (avocado). The key ratio for carbo-loading is 55-60% carbs for the week prior to the race and 70% carbohydrates for the three days before the race.
Carbo-loading is useful for half marathons but not nearly as important as it is for full marathons. This is due to the fact that your body really doesn’t tap into your stores until about 2 hours into a race. This is why many marathon trainers hit the infamous “wall” if they don’t provide themselves with enough nutrition. The body physically can’t sustain itself for as long as it takes to complete a marathon without nutrition during the race.
Another fun fact about carbo-loading: for every gram of carbohydrate that you store, you also store 2.7 grams of water. Therefore, it is ideal to gain between 2-4 pounds before a race. It seems counterintuitive since the lighter you are, the easier it is to run, but the glycogen and water stored in your muscles will provide plenty of fuel to get you to the finish line. Although I’m only 1.5 weeks away from my final P90X weigh in, I plan to gain weight this week. However, it should be gone by the end of the race!
Here’s a good, brief summary of carbo-loading by one of my favorite marathon experts, Hal Higdon: http://www.halhigdon.com/Nancy.html. Hal has several marathon and half marathon FREE training programs on his website. I actually used his beginner half-marathon training plan for my first half-marathon 2 years ago!
Here goes nothing….
Wish me luck! Check back on Moday to see if my P90X version of a taper week worked!