Ok. So I have to admit I don't do the taper thing very well in preparation for a marathon or an ultra-marathon. I do it, but it's not without protest. As I trained for the ultra that I just completed, those thoughts were even more strong. Why run less? Don't they know what I am about to do. Run less, rest more? Wait a minute. Tapering is a term that means during the last two to three weeks of your race training plan, you cut down the miles and add in a few more rest opportunities. I have read several quotes and articles in Runner's World and other running magazines that encourage and highly recommend putting a taper into the final weeks of your training plan. This quote from the Runner's World website says it in a very plain way: "So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they're desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don't," says Patti Finke, who coaches 250 marathoners a year as co-director of the Portland (Oregon) Marathon Clinic. "What they don't realize is that in those last few weeks it's the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don't lose fitness in 3 weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn't change at all." So yes, I did taper before my ultra and like I have in past marathon training plans. And yes, it worked again. I should not fight the concept but embrace and welcome the opportunity to enjoy the weeks leading up to a race. I am still learning. But I encourage you to do the same. Remember, it works!
Recovery training is another area that I always have wanted to rush. Usually, I do. Hal Higdon has several great training plans for a variety of distances and advocates that you take several weeks after a race to let your body heal and to increase your miles back on your next training plan at a pace that allows you to recover well. There are several training plans and thoughts on this subject too. Some people take less time to recover than others. That will always be the case. Everyone is different and should find a training plan that fits their needs. The point here is to take some recovery time after a race. There are exceptions to all of these plans. Some people will react better to taking the concept of "recovery" to mean taking a few days off and then start preparing for the next race. Remember, not everyone fits the same mold. If that is what works for you, then go for it. Higdon calls a recovery training plan a "reverse taper".
Ok, one of the exceptions to what I have just said about tapering and recovery is that during the months from October to February, I will (along with my son Andy and our friend Larry) run four marathons in those months. We will run in the Marathon2Marathon (October), The Wellstone's Dallas White Rock Marathon (December), The Chevron Houston Marathon (January), and the AT&T Austin Marathon (February). Yes, I know. Where is the taper? Where is the recovery? Well, my running friends, I already have a plan. As the races get close, I will let you know the training plans and how they are going. But for now, remember to have a taper plan and a recovery plan in place. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. It helps to be a little bit crazy sometimes doesn't it?
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!