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Tapering: The hay's in the barn

The hay's in the barn!

That's Hal Higdon's expression for the time when we "switch over" from training to tapering.  It's his way of saying, That's it, formal marathon training is over; there's no more time to cram in any more.  I agree.  There's no looking back.

Run_easy I've tapered dumb and I've tapered smart.  And I've learned that all the months and weeks of running behind me are moot in relation to the weeks I've set aside to taper.  At this point I can't get faster, and I can’t increase my endurance.  But I can injured and show up on race day with legs of lead if I don’t put the taper to work for me. The taper is a phenomenon I need to trust and follow to drive the way I perform on race day.

Marathon guru Peter Pfitzinger says, “Despite the benefits, tapering is the most overlooked phase of marathon preparation.”  Tapering is when the running shifts down while the importance of recovering, sleeping, and eating well ramps up.  It's the return on our investment. 

The focus of tapering is on the cumulative recovery and rejuvenation over several weeks, not squeezing in more running.  After all, what’s the point in trying to fit in one more long run or kick-butt speed workout this late in the game?  What's the point in leaving my best running out on my training runs and then have legs of wood on race day?

For this year’s taper for the Chicago Marathon, I’m going a bit unconventional, running only moderate mileage for two days followed by one day rest.  With 10 days left, I’ll rest one day for each day of running.  And run nothing the last three days before the marathon.

To re-use one of my favorite sayings, I'd rather be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained.

Looking forward to learning everyone's advice, tips, success stories and tapering plans at tomorrow's Take It and Run Thursday.

Run Easy on Flickr by spotmaticfanatic

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Comments

Kent A

I am going through this right now. I am week 1 of taper, and my major change this week is not pushing to get my run in. Last night I went long with Fire Dept training, and rather than bust out a so-so run at 10:30 pm, I decided to skip the day. I figured the rest could do me more good than another 5 mile run. This weekend will be 13 miler at slightly (:15/mile) slower than race pace.

Next week, I will play it by ear in terms of quality workouts. I may try one more tempo workout, but that's it. Just enough running to stay loose, and mentally unskewed. I may dedicate the week to running with the daughter at her pace.

Andrew

Hi Tom. I'm still relatively new to your site but am enjoying it a lot. I'll be running Chicago too (my first marathon!). Since I'm close to starting my taper I've been reading up on the subject and therefore really enjoyed your post.

Nancy

Good luck, Tom. You'll be fabulous as usual. Have a great time at Chicago.

Nanc

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