For me, 10 days before a race is a milestone. It is commonly cited that you can gain no more fitness that will be benefit your race after the 10 day mark. This means that the last speed work session is done and all you can do at this point is focus on nutrition, rest, and NOT running too hard or much in the meantime.
Last year on race day it was sunny and in the 70s. Yes, in January it was in the mid 70s. It was a gorgeous day but clearly not ideal for racing. This year, with a high of 66 (yes I do know that this forecast could dramatically change in the next 10 days but work with me here), that means that by the time I finish the half marathon around 10 a.m., I doubt the temps will have even reached 60. Perfect racing weather and perfect PR weather.
So yes, it is taper time now. Sometimes I welcome the taper and other times it makes me antsy. Since I’ve been training pretty hard now since the end of September, I’m welcoming this short reprieve in my intense training plan. Instead of waking up and running in the cold darkness three to four days a week, I only actually ran before 6 a.m. once this week! Although, I do admit I kind of miss going on Daily Mile and seeing a weekly mileage number in the 50s.
I wasn’t sure exactly how to adjust the three week marathon taper I had already mapped out according to my Pfitzinger 18/55 plan since now I am doing the half marathon instead of the full, but what I ended up doing was shaving a couple of miles off my weekend long runs, dropping one run last week in favor of sleeping in, and maintaining the intensity of my runs. Basically my goal was to get some quality workouts in that will improve my speed, but not overload my body with even more long runs (I’ve literally been running 16-20 mile long runs every weekend for three months).
For example, two weekends ago I was supposed to run 20 miles at a “general aerobic” pace according to Pfizginer’s plan. Since I’ve already ran 20 miles twice in this training cycle and plan to again twice in the next cycle, I figured my body would benefit more from some speed and a shorter run. Instead, I ran 16 miles with the first 4 being easy and the last 12 being a bit faster (8:20-8:30) with an overall pace of 8:45. I would have probably run the 20 miles at 9:15-9:20 average. Last weekend I was supposed to do my 10k tune-up race on Saturday (or a simulated tempo workout), which I did, and then I was to run 16 miles. Instead, I ran 14.
I’ve been continuing to do my interval workouts, mostly Yasso 800’s instead of the scheduled speed workouts. I’ve been feeling great during my interval workouts and have found that the 7 min/mile that I was really struggling to maintain during my 800s is getting easier (still a challenge of course). I’m gaining confidence that I’ll be able to complete 10 of them at this pace before Eugene which would indicate I’m ready to run a 3:35 marathon. This week I followed Pftiz’s plan and did some 1 mile repeats. I think I had a bit of of taper sluggishness but I still had a good workout. That workout put the nail in the coffin – my half marathon pace can’t be improved anymore, just ruined!
The plan for next week is to sleep as much as possible and to eat healthy foods. I will still do my yoga class on Monday but I’m going to skip my strength workout on Thursday and I’ll get at least one Ab Ripper session in. Since the new year I have been really good about keeping my diet very clean and mostly vegan. This last week Mike and I busted out some wine a couple of nights and I have plans with friends involving alcohol both nights this weekend (trust me, not ragers or anything) but next week I plan to not to drink at all. In the past, I can tell a difference in a race when I’ve been eating poorly (always the case at AFC in August it seems) compared to when I’ve been eating healthy. I really want to get that sub 1:45 at Surf City next Sunday and I don’t want to do anything to mess it up!
Do you like the taper? Do you also obsessively check the weather or try to avoid it completely before a race?