Monday, March 29, 2010

Taper Time – Tom and Sylvie

Let the taper begin! Marathon gurus say physiologic training is mostly complete at this point and we should start to taper mileage in preparation for the marathon. I take all this advice with a grain of salt since the articles rarely distinguish between athletes and the rest of us. Still, it's nice to know that I can cut down the mileage each of the next three weeks. If I understand correctly, intensity of runs should remain the same but mileage should decrease about 20 percent this week. I've gotten used to eating whatever I like and whenever I'm hungry so I'll have to cut back there a little too.

Yesterday, Sylvie and I went for our 20-mile run. It wasn't easy. We designed the run so there were several hills after mile 18, and I really had to slow down on the hills. My heart was OK but my legs felt heavy and wouldn't go as fast as I'd hoped. On race day, I'll have to be smart prior to turning the corner at the fire station on Comm. Ave. and climbing the Newton Hills. We're sticking with our plan of not running the course before the Marathon. I've run parts of it during training runs that start at NWH, but I always start up Beacon St to Newton Center and run Commonwealth Ave in reverse. In reality, I've lived here long enough to know the course from NWH to Boston. I practiced eating gel and drinking on the long runs, even though I haven't been getting very thirsty. I can tell that I feel better after the long runs when I do drink and eat so I'm hopeful it will help for those last six miles.

My back/chest wall muscle pull is definitely better, but Sylvie will need some attention this week for a knee problem that started yesterday. Newton-Wellesley Hospital Physical Therapy staff are great. I'm there weekly; the physical therapist is excellent and I'm doing all the exercises and stretching that is prescribed. It's a tremendous benefit for the NWH runners and I'm so appreciative of the expertise and professionalism of the staff.

This week will be three to four days of running: none today, an easy run tomorrow, a longish run Wednesday or Thursday and then "only" 14 miles on Sunday. What a new perspective on 14 miles! Thanks again to everyone who gives me an encouraging word during the week. It makes a difference.

The challenge is to peak at the right time – not too soon, not too late or not at all (!). When training for a major run, I have always found this to be tricky and often hit or miss because there are so many variables. Then, assuming one has peaked at approximately the right time, the next challenge in the final weeks is to not overdo it – not easy if you belong to the school of "more is better." In any case, even if everything goes according to the master plan, I remind myself that when it comes to running a marathon, there are no guarantees. If things do not pan out, I still have the benefits of the many months of training... so, regardless of the outcome, one comes out ahead.

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