Follow our Crazy bloggers as they train, get fit, raise sponsorship money for the CIDA and raise awareness of Diabetes in Grand Cayman!
6 weeks until the Cayman Islands Marathon! I missed posting last Sunday but it was a great day so I’ll talk a little bit about it. At 4:30am, 13 of us took on a point-to-point long run from Grand Harbour to Rum Point. We were all at different points in our training cycles so some ran the full route, some ran the last 15 miles and some ran the last 11 miles. No matter the distance, getting to Rum Point was a great accomplishment for everyone! I do want to mention that all of us got picked up at Rum Point…except for Crazy James Murray who as part of his 100 mile training, turned right around and ran BACK to Grand Harbour. Awesome! I flew out later that day to Los Angeles, spent a couple days there for work, and then flew to San Francisco, where I spent the rest of the week for work and got home last night. While I was in San Francisco I went for an incredible long run with one of my girlfriends who lives out there – our route took us across the Golden Gate bridge. Very cool.
Even though we’re still 6 weeks out from the Cayman Islands Marathon I thought I’d talk about tapering in this week’s entry so people can see what’s ahead and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel to all this training. Tapering is a gradual reduction in training volume and intensity during the 2-3 weeks before your goal race that leaves you properly rested for race day, while still maintaining your fitness level. Like most things running related, there is no one right way to taper and you have to find what works best for you.
For a marathon, most people follow a 2-3 week taper. I like a 3 week taper. The first week isn’t significantly different than a regular training week but I like the mental aspect of knowing I’ll get a bit of break. Here are some general guidelines to follow for a 3 week taper:
Volume - Reduce volume by 25%. If you’ve been running 50 miles a week, this week you would only run around 38. You should aim to keep the number of days you run each week the same. If you’ve been running 5 days per week, continue to run 5 days per week but each run will just be a shorter distance.
Intensity – If you’ve been doing intervals, tempo running or both, still incorporate those sessions into your week. However, the total mileage of those runs should be reduced. Keep your easy run pace the same as it’s been.
Long run – Reduce your long run to 16-17 miles, instead of 20-22. Keep your long run pace the same as it’s been throughout training.
Volume – Reduced volume by 50%. So a 50 mile per week runner would only run 25 miles this week. Again, aim to keep the number of days per week you run the same.
Intensity – This week, a tempo run is replaced by an easy run but it’s a good idea to do a short interval workout to keep the legs fresh. You can also add in 5-6 strides after a couple of your easy runs to help keep your legs fresh. For more about strides, see this post.
Long run – Reduce your long run to 11-12 miles. At this point, you might start to feel rested and your legs might start to feel fresh and springy. Resist the urge to run your long run faster than you normally would. You need to save that energy for race day!!
Volume – Reduce volume by 75%. That 50 mile per week runner will only run 13 or so miles before race day.
Intensity – Keep all your runs easy this week and do 4 strides after a couple of your runs to keep your legs fresh. On the Tuesday before the race, it’s good to do a run where you run 2 miles easy and then incorporate 2 miles at goal race pace (NOT faster than that!) or do 2 x 10 minutes at goal race pace. This run is short enough that it won’t tire you out but will help you dial in a bit on race pace.
Long run – Your long run this week is your goal race. Good luck!!!
The taper plan above isn’t the only way to taper. The volume reductions might be too drastic. You could do 20%, 40%, 60% instead of 25%, 50%, 75%. Or something close to that. You can also do a 2 week taper and reduce volume in a similar manner. Basically, the details don’t matter but the overall theme is a progressive reduction in volume and intensity.
The taper can be challenging. Many people find it difficult to believe that by running LESS leading up to the race that they will race FASTER. People also falsely believe they will lose fitness by running less. Not true! Less IS more during tapering. Your body needs time to recover and adapt from all the hard work you’ve put it through. A good mantra to remember if you’re having trouble tapering is: TRUST YOUR TRAINING. You’ve done the work and now the only thing you can do is screw it up by doing too much during the taper period.
Hopefully the tips above will help lead you to a successful race. Until next time, see you on the streets!