Wednesday, January 23, 2013
3 Weeks and the Start of Tapering
"Victory or defeat is not determined at the moment of crisis, but rather in the long and unspectacular period of preparation" - Winston Churchill
OK, so I don't want to surprise anyone, but if you're training for Mercedes, we only have 3 more weeks of training from this Sunday, and two of those weeks are taper weeks.YIKES!!!! Soooooo, last week, most of you should have done your longest run of the schedule (20 miles for the full, and 11 miles for the half). My schedule has us doing our longest run 4 weeks out just in case something happens and you missed it...you still can do it this week and have time to recover. For all of you that DID do your long run last Sunday, this week we drop down to 15 miles (7 for the half). We don't treat these last few long runs any different than any other training run, just do it slow and steady. If you can, try to wear the same shoes you plan to wear on raceday. Unless you like surprises, it's a good idea to try everything out before raceday. Something that feels good for a 5 mile run may turn into clothes from hell at 16. It always continues to amaze me the things folks come up with as we get closer to marathon day. We all look for the "magic bullet" that will make this a walk in the park. You know what? - It ain't there. Hard work, sweat, and consistency with the whole process (training, clothes, food, fuel, etc) is the ONLY way to assure success. Believe in yourself. If you've trained this far, and done well, then Sunday, or 3 weeks from Sunday, will be no different. You'll finish and say "I couldn't have run any further than that!" Heck, that's what you say after a 5 mile, a 10 mile, or a 15 mile run. You set a mental goal, and your mind doles out the effort (mental and physical) to meet that goal. How many of you actually thought you'd get this far? Oh sure, you had the hope of being here, but the HOPE didn't do it. You did it by getting out there on Sundays, or Saturdays, and Mondays, and...all 150 of those days! As you grew up, you learned how to walk, write, read, play basketball, and now how to run marathons. Don't make it something it's not. It's a great physical accomplishment that you trained yourself for. Be confident in yourself. YOU are all you ever have to answer to.
I know you're busting at the seams to get going with this thing, but you also feel there is no way to "whip" yourself into shape in the next couple of weeks. Believe me, you're ready. Now, it's time to pull back on the reins, and allow the body to prepare itself by healing (injuries) and loading (carbohydrates). Remember the 4 stages of training I have you going through: Base, strengthening, sharpening, and tapering? Well, all 4 stages are equally important. The first three stages are a series of tear-downs, build-ups, and recovery - sort of a "controlled trauma" to your body! Now, think of what you were doing 5 months ago, and how far you've come. The thought of completing a half marathon, or (yikes!) a full marathon, is not as foreign a thought as it once was, is it? Oh sure, it's still scary, but the word "impossible" just doesn't seem to fit anymore. You've put in many hundreds of miles since week #1. Intense training actually causes a DECREASE in strength during the tear-down and build-up stages. Only through rest are the muscles allowed the time to adapt to the stresses you're putting on them. Many runners are afraid to taper for fear that all their hard training will go straight down the toilet if they back off. Trust me, it takes a long time to decondition (remember, I'm a Physical Therapist, which means I have letters after my name that should make you blindly believe me!!). There is NO loss in performance or conditioning for up to two months if training is cut in 50%! Studies show that a 60-70% reduction in training over a two week period will result in a 3.5-3.7% improvement in performance. For a four hour marathoner, this COULD mean up to 8 minutes!! The solid foundation has been laid, but there's still time to screw everything up!!! Cut down the training as per your training schedule - they're not huge cutbacks, but enough to allow resting and recharging to occur. Tapering is cutting back your mileage, but not your intensity. Train at the same pace you have been doing (not faster). You're like a plane coming in for a landing - a slow decline in altitude for a smooth landing. Let's not put it into a nosedive!
Now, pay attention: on Sunday, February 3rd, we will run our 2nd trial run on the Mercedes Course from Boutwell Auditorium downtown (the Start Line). More info next week, but just wanted to get you all thinking about it. Hope you all have a good training week and I'll see you on the roads - AL
"One child lost is too many...one child saved can change the world"