When it comes to the subject of tapering, running coaches will often say “the hay is in the barn”. What they mean is that there is very little you can do in the final weeks to become a faster runner intrinsically, but you can ruin your chances of running at your full potential by messing up the taper phase. Correctly tapering for a goal race can lead to a 2-8% improvement in race time. You can read the science behind this all over the internet. In that past, I have written about the madness that is the taper ; as I taper for the Richmond marathon, let’s revisit and dig a little deeper into this important training phase.
I have never met a Gu I truly liked, and certainly there has never been one that I would even consider eating outside of running and racing. Heck, I often look for ways to fuel during runs and races that don’t involve the sticky, overpowering and thick, fake taste that is Gu Gels. I have tried other brands with much the same result.
But! Recently I had the opportunity to try Huma Chia Energy Gels, and I absolutely love the taste. So far my favorite flavor is cinnamon apple. And I am happy to report that these gels contain the same carb content and electrolyte profile to Gu and similar gels. Here are some pictures to compare as well as the company site for Huma.
A good marathon plan will typically start with 4 weeks of hill training. Within those 4 weeks, the runner will work on three different hill workouts: hill sprints, medium hills, and long hills. I am always scoping out new hills in my long and easy runs, filing them away for the hill module to keep things interesting.
This blog post is nearly two years old, but I thought I would republish it for some friends who are racing this coming weekend. Sometimes taper is the hardest part of training. I managed a 21 minute marathon PR after this particular piece was written.
Runners do this thing called “taper” in the weeks leading up to goal endurance race. Tapering is essentially a decrease in weekly miles run that allows for repair of muscles, storage of extra glycogen, and amply recovery before race day. It has been shown to increase performance somewhere between 2-8%, depending on how the tapering is done. The most effective tapering plans take into account a runners peak mileage, the length of the race, and the runner’s experience and goals. Plans that decrease intensity along with mileage have been shown to be far less effective than those that decrease mileage but maintain intensity.
But, all that said, that is not really what this post is about.
This post is about Taper Madness. It’s about what happens to your brain on taper.
Have you ever let these thoughts creep into your head during a run? They worm their way in and try to convince you to shave off a little distance from your goal, trying to convince you that “this far is enough.”
It’s almost like being back in college. The idea of skipping class occurs to you…maybe when you wake up in the middle of the night and class is at 9:30AM. I could just skip. And there it is, that thought, and now it’s like you have no choice! You are simply doomed to skip class.
I learned that I need to fight these thoughts when it comes to running.
My last marathon ended in DNF. When I signed up for the City of Oaks Marathon, I wanted one thing: redemption. I could have picked a flat course or course with more aid stations and less greenway running or maybe even one with huge crowds throughout the 26.2 miles. But I chose the City of Oaks Marathon with all of its 1275ft of elevation gain, 10 miles of greenway running, and some lonely stretches.
And the challenge made the redemption all the sweeter.
Preventing injuries is something I really struggle with.
The general idea and good advice repeated time and time again is:
Listen to your body. Pay attention to your mood.
How well are you sleeping? Unenergized?
Are you putting in too many miles? Too much speed? Too soon?
I tell that to the kids, preach it to the missus.
Yet, I’m one of those people who believes I can always give a bit more, try a little harder.
To me this always conflicts with “listening to my body”.
If I am not feeling dead after a workout, then, it wasn’t a workout.
I might have to weigh in the long term benefits of incremental progress vs. “run as fast as you can for as long as you can”.
This marathon season, I am going to start giving it a try.
Taking it easy and trusting in the plan 😉