Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Taper Time!

It's officially taper time! 

Marathon tapering simply means reducing the weekly mileage you would typically put in during training.  There are many conflicting opinions regarding by by how much you should reduce mileage and whether you should significantly decrease the intensity or keep the intensity up as high as it has been in the weeks leading up to tapering.  But, generally, everyone agrees that tapering for a few weeks leading up to the marathon is a good thing.  Tapering allows you to physically and mentally recover from the months of training that have, no doubt, taken quite the toll.  In scientific terms, tapering can "bolster muscle power, increase muscle glycogen, muscle repair, freshen the mind, fine-tune the neural network so that it’s working the most efficiently, and most importantly, eliminate the risk of overtraining where it could slow the athlete down the most.” (stolen language from an online article at running.competitor.com - you don't want explaining scientific things unless  "the thingy because of the watchamacallit" makes sense to you).  What does all of this mean to me?  It means, if I spend the next two weeks tapering, I will be a better runner come January 19, 2014.  All sounds like good stuff to me, right?? 

Right up until I started reading about tapering online.  The internet is filled with negative articles and posts about tapering.  It seems a lot of people hate tapering.  Apparently, people get really cranky during their taper weeks.  The stress of not running is too much for them.  From what I read, the problem is that people start feeling like they are losing all of their strength, gaining weight, or just generally becoming less prepared.  Sometimes people even begin feeling sure that they are getting sick or developing injuries from "taking it easy."  When I started reading all of the taper-hate, I started to panic.  Am I not doing this right?  Will I get fat?  Will all my training go down toilet if I take it easy for two weeks?  Did I train enough?  Should I squeeze in one more really long run?

Damn doubts.  Luckily for me, about the only thing that can outweigh my natural tendency towards doubt is my desire for REST!  I can't even give my doubts the time of day for being so excited about taking it easy over the next 12 days.  The way I see it, tapering is part of training not a break from training.  Nearly every training program you find includes a taper section for the last couple of weeks.  I choose to see tapering as time when my body gets stronger because of all of the work I have put it through in the 16 weeks leading up to it, not weaker because I'm giving it the rest it needs. 
Don't get me wrong, I'm still running.  I have 5 runs left between now and M-Day.  It's just that the distances will be shorter and I won't be doing any speed work.  I'm going to do five good runs and beyond that, I'm just going to trust in my training, tapering and all. 

No comments:

Post a Comment