This week was 48 miles of running, 20 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.
And, this is the best week of taper - the week where you're relaxing and have extra time, but aren't close enough to the race to be nervous. It's the calm before the storm. Very peaceful.
(unless you happen to have recently adopted kittens. Then you're just grateful for the extra free time, since all of your extra time is spent feeding, litterbox cleaning, and kitten wrangling. But I digress)
In my past few training cycles, I've felt great on my long runs during the heavy training, only to show up flat on race day and mis-fire. To me, that indicates an issue with my taper - there's something that shifts between the training cycle and race day that leaves me stale on the day I most need to be sharp.
So, I've made two changes to my taper this cycle, each of which is essentially to change things less during taper.
The first change is dietary. The diet I prefer and feel best on is higher protein/fat than most runners - I'd train on that diet, and then carb-up very heavily in the last few days. In retrospect, it's not at all surprising that I'd feel sluggish and slow - food coma-esque - on race morning. And race how I felt.
Since running a marathon without carb-loading is a bit high risk for my taste, I decided to shift the other way by gradually increasing my carb consumption during the entire cycle, to a point where my daily diet was fairly high carb. My hope is that by doing so, the carb loading in the last few days won't be as much of a shock to my system, since it won't be as great a change.
The second change is to how I structured my taper. It's obviously very important to cut back on your physical workload during taper - you're not going to build any fitness, and you're trying to rest. At the same time, there's a reason that we don't stop speedwork completely for the final weeks before a marathon - the body needs some stimulus to keep it sharp. So we keep the intensity but just cut back on the volume of the fast running, so that one stays ready to run hard while also resting. Makes sense, right?
However, in training cycles past, while I've kept the speed work in until the last few days pre-race, I've gone cold turkey on other aspects of my training during taper, cutting out both yoga and strengthwork in the gym. In retrospect, not the best idea. The yoga keeps me balanced and flexible, while lifting weights naturally (and legally) promotes the body's production of testosterone and growth hormone. Both of these things are beneficial to my running, and so eliminating them for the last few weeks pre-race probably has hurt me in the same way that an extended period of no fast running would. I suspect this is part of why I feel so lousy after taper.
So this cycle, I'm tapering down the yoga and weights, rather than cutting them entirely I've stopped going to yoga class, mostly due to some justified paranoia about getting sick (it's amazing how many people think it's reasonable to go to a yoga class when they're fighting off a cold or flu). However, I've been doing a simplified 10 minute routine several times a week to keep my hips open and my glutes firing. I'll stick with that routine all the way to the day before the marathon.
As for weights, I'm cutting back the volume, but not the intensity. In the last few days, my weights routine will be all of 5 minutes. I'll do some planks, then two sets of bicep curls and some push-ups, and call it there. Not enough to build strength or fitness, but just enough that I haven't changed my routine too much. I think of it as equivalent to the last set of 800s that we do a few days before a marathon.
T-6 days until Chicago.
Monday: Upper body weights and 6.5 "miles" pool-running; 1.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.
Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 (1:35, 3:06, 4:36, 6:09, 4:26, 2:51, 79), followed by light injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:39). 2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.
Thursday: Upper body weights and 6.5 "miles" pool-running; 1.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.
Friday: 9 miles, including a 5K tempo on the track in 19:51 (6:31/6:19/6:17/0:44), followed by injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Saturday: 8 miles very easy (9:39), plus drills and strides, followed by upper body weights. 2 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the afternoon.
Sunday: 12 miles easy/aerobic (8:34), followed by light injury prevention work. Foam rolling in afternoon.