Four days out from the Grayson Highlands 50k and I’m in full taper mode.
If you are not an active competitor in endurance races a taper is essentially the few weeks leading up to a race where you lighten the work load. You take slowly take it easier and easier until (a few days before the race) you do nothing at all.
Everyone is going to taper differently because everyone’s body responds to stress, exercise and relaxation in different ways. I always suggest experimenting with a few different tapers over a few different events to find out what works for you. (I’m still trying to figure this out for myself)
There’s a billion websites out there that will give you specific taper strategies (this is not one of them!)
That being said a taper is a necessity. Especially before your big race. Without tapering you are facing the fearsome duo of overtraining and injury.
I’m still experimenting to find out what works best for me but I’ve been following this basic idea:
Gradually ease up on the running workload and focus more on flexibility and nutrition.
- Four weeks ago I completed my long run of 22 miles. (Usually I would do more but I am already mostly trained from the Holiday Lake 50k in February)
- Three weeks ago I cut out any long run over 10 miles, eased up on my strength training, started focusing on yoga and movement, and (sadly) ate my last pizza and (even more sadly) drank my last beer.
- Two weeks ago I stopped any intense (speedy) running, focused more on slow easy miles to keep the body loose, cut out any food that is “bad” for me, focused all strength training on higher reps with lighter weight, and began a routine of cold showers to promote recovery.
- This week I’ve ran two slow flat training runs (to keep the legs loose), did some gentle yoga classes, went for a few hikes and practiced active recovery.
ACTIVE RECOVERY= Hikes, Slackline, Bodyweight Movements, Yoga, Super slow jogging, Walking. Really it’s anything that keeps the body moving and loosens up your muscles.
What I’ve learned in this round of Tapering:
- You need Hard Rock to get through a 5 minute freezing cold shower. My favorite is “Calm Like a Bomb” by Rage Against the Machine. You will suffer….but at least suffer with a little bit of rage.
- Walking around DC with a two year old is enough to wear out even the most in shape ultrarunner.
- You won’t be really good at Slackline right away. I keep visualizing myself as Rocky at the beginning of the montage when it comes to slackline skills.
- Nutrition is still hard to nail even if you are now experienced in endurance training. Dessert always looks so delicious!
- I sweat way more during a yoga class than I do going for a run. It looked like rain was falling off my face. Oh yeah, I smelled pretty bad too…
That’s all for today! If you feel as though you are lost or have not accomplished anything of worth lately than I suggest signing up for an event or begin to plan a trip. It’ll give you something to look forward to and more importantly something to train for!