Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Taper Madness? Probably Not.

As the months and weeks of anticipation become days, I am officially tapering for the Napa Valley Marathon... but not really.

As many of you know, the best way to hit your physiological peak for a racing event is to "taper" or "peak" just prior to its occurrence. A myriad of factors go into a proper peak and it is very much an individualized art form as opposed to an exact science. And while much is written about the many changes of the peaking athlete during tapering, for me and the NVM, it is a non-factor.

A good taper or peak will contain adjustments to, among others, the two major training factors: volume and intensity (reductions are most common). Yet, it isn't that simple. While the volume part is easy; reduce the volume of training in the cycle prior to the event, the intensity is far more complicated. Attention is given to the type of intense work: is it tempo runs, track work, marathon pace runs, fartlek or something else? Then it's a tweaking of the number of reps, say in a track workout as well as the actual speed of the reps and rest interval between. All very tricky, and I have barely scratched the surface in this brief explanation.

Luckily, for me, this is simple. I am merely reducing volume this week and next. My last two three week building cycles were 62, 67, 72 miles and 62, 74, 75 miles. This week we'll hit 45-48 and next week, not counting the marathon itself, about 30-35. There are no other training variables to tweak because, very intentionally, I have done no other training. No track, no tempo, no complicated series of workouts designed to bring about the most miraculous of benefits. Or in the words of Forest Gump, "I was runninG." And that's the extent of it. Just running.

The entire goal of the Napa Valley Marathon has been to get back to running within an event oriented purpose and to finish a marathon. Nothing else. I must say that I have done a pretty job of not letting my marathon history or my future goals get in way of simply running with the kinder, gentler goal. Once recovered, goals will shift to a more "racing" and time based mentality. But we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.

So while I cut miles, I do not expect some of the side effects of the tapering process (except maybe some of the crankiness). Hopefully my legs will freshen up and my mind will be itching to go.

12 more days!

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