How to Taper for a Marathon

November 25, 2012

The answer is … I don’t know. There seem to be as many different schools of thought on how to taper as there are flavors of frozen yogurt (yes I’m craving some right now, who isn’t in the last week before their marathon!).

So Many Flavors, Such Few Days to Try Them All

It’s too late to really change my tapering plans, but as with any taper the mind does get a little warped so I decided to go back and look at my previous tapers and also do some reading. There’s calls for 3 week tapers, 10 day tapers, 2 weeks tapers, very little up tempo work, quite a bet of up tempo work. The only thing that seems consistent is reduce your overall effort … when to do it, how much to do it by, what type of workouts to do result in different opinions. And no one opinion is right or wrong when you look at the results from these groups and athletes.

So what has worked for me. I went back and looked at my running log for the last few years. Since the first season with Team Rogue my taper has been around two weeks and hasn’t been a huge drop in mileage. Below are my last two taper weeks from two different races (both at CIM), the first from 2008 (sub 3:00 race) and the second form 2010 (sub 2:50 race).

CIM 2008

Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total
of Base
Rest 9 M
(5 Steady)
10 M 7 M
(4 Tempo)
Rest 13 M 7 M 46 84%
Rest 7 M
(6 @ MGP)
7 M 7 M Rest 7 M Race 54.2 99%

CIM 2010

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total
of Base
4 M 10 M 12 M 13 M
(5 Tempo)
Rest 13 M 11 M 63 90%
Rest 8M
(4 Tempo)
11 M 7 M
(4 Steady)
Rest 5 M Race 57.2 82%

So it’s really about a 10 to 15% drop. If you exclude the actual marathon the week leading up to the race is around 50% of the base so the day of the marathon I tended to feel relatively fresh. I’ve found the shorter tempo or steady work 5 to 12 days before the race is really valuable too, keeps the legs primed. I remember going into a race once without much MGP or Tempo work in the two weeks before the race and my legs felt really loose, almost too loose and unresponsive. This approach has worked for me in the past so I’m sticking to something similar for CIM this year.

CIM 2012 Taper Plan

Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total
of Base
Rest 8 M
(10k Ladder)
8 M 9 M
(4 Tempo)
4 M 14 M 9 M 52 90%
Rest 8 M
(5 MGP)
8 M 8 M Rest 5 M Race 55.2 95%

The 2012 plan is somewhere between 2008 and 2010 so should be good for me. My training from a volume and pace standpoint also happens to be between the 2008 and 2010 seasons. All there is left to do is just run the race … and keep the taper mental daemons and phantom leg pains at bay.


California International Marathon (CIM) take 3

November 16, 2012

Well it’s just over two weeks till the CIM marathon. This will be my third time running this marathon, both the previous two times were PRs. In 2008 I ran under 3 hours for the first time and in 2010 under 2:50 for the first time. When you hear about CIM you can be decived into believing the course is downhill, it is net downhill for sure and a fast course but it is rolling. Keeping under control early in the race seems like a good way to approach this race, after mile 18 the course is flat to downhill and if you have anything left in your legs you really can open it up.

What does 2012 hold at CIM for me? Well you never know until the day of the race. I’m positive this isn’t a PR year for me, but I do hope to run somewhere between 2:50 and 3:00, ideally sub 2:55. When this year started I was coming off an inconsitent year of running and I told myself being back in the shape I was in for CIM 2008 would be the goal for this year. My training indicates I’m there so goal accomplished. Now I just have to go run the race with the rest of the Team Rogue crew training with El Jefe.

This has been the first season with Jeff as the Team Rogue coach and I’ve enjoyed working with him. It’s been interesting having him get “comfortable” and “get to know” all of us in the group, I can see him tuning things to us individually now as he’s gotten to know us, what we need and what we respond to.  After CIM we’ll roll into Boston marathon training. It’ll be the second season with Jeff and I’m excited about how he adjusts our training now that we’ve had a full training season together. If you’re looking for a group of committed people to train and run with come join us.

The significance of a first mortgage payment

November 11, 2012

Not a running post, been a while. Driving back from the San Antonio half marathon today I was reminded by many mentions on the radio that it’s veterans day today. It reminded me of a really moving experience that was recounted to me, and also of a recent disappointment. First the good.

The story is short and sweet and about a veteran. The story ends with a first mortgage payment. One of the realizations of the American dream many would say. The road to that first mortgage payment wasn’t easy though. This veteran used to be one of the many homeless veterans (17% of the homeless are veterans) in Austin. The veteran got off the streets, was part of a transitional housing program that Green Doors provides. The veteran then moved into an affordable housing program (again with Green Doors), managed to find employment, moved into his own apartment and eventually his own home … and made his first mortgage payment. When I heard this story I really was lost for words, the good that comes from enabling somebody to transform their own lives is immeasurable.

So now the bad. The affordable housing I mentioned would not have been possible without the 2006 housing bounds approved by the citizens of Austin. Proposition 15 which failed to pass last week was going to enable organizations in Austin like Green Doors to expand their affordable housing programs, something that is desperately needed. What’s done is done.

Anyway, I also wanted to thank all of you that supported Prop 15 and continue to support organizations like Green Doors with your time and money.


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