Race week tapering

On May 23, 2012, in Marathon, road running, Training, by Alf

This is my first real taper ever. I have previously eased off in anticipation of a race, but with marathon training this is entirely different. Just over two weeks ago I ran 38km and was then back running a few days later closely followed by a half marathon the following week. For me this has been some very intense training and it seems intuitive that any drop at all will make some sort of difference.

Curiously, past injuries have taught me the benefits of the taper. I have previously had injuries that have not been too serious, but have nevertheless meant that I have gone into races reasonably fit but having been forced to avoid all running for some time in advance. Two years ago, after many years of trying, I finally hit a 10k target time at the end of a week of rest and ice for an injured calf. Despite all my fears about being ill-prepared I found that with the rest exactly the opposite seemed to be true. The enforced rest seemed to have me very well prepared. Despite my natural instinct to keep running and try to continue to improve, I know that my body is currently both recovering from my training and storing oodles and oodles of glycogen. Deep down I think I am expecting a rush of taper-turbo, but in reality it is likely that all I can realistically expect is to defer the energy slump late in the run. I have followed the plan almost to the letter, so if I don’t get the benefits I will be writing a strongly worded tweet to Hal Higdon!

The carb-loading is something that is taking some getting used to. I have never eaten so much fruit in my life. Online resources indicate that I need to consume around 700g of carbohydrates per day for my loading. This seems close to impossible. I am currently making a list of meals and snacks to get through the next 3 days. The target looks quite daunting, but hopefully some careful swapping (e.g. water with fruit juice or a sports drink) will help and I plan on copious amounts of malt loaf, toast, beans and oats.

The trip to Boston at the start of this week has meant that I have been a little more cautious than I planned to be, mainly because I usually find that jet-lag has me craving food in the middle of the night and then still eating the usual meals on top of that. Now that I am home I am going to focus hard on shifting the balance from protein towards carbs. Right now, I’m off to try some yoga to help repair my twisted body.

 4 days to go!


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