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Event tapering

Let me start out by saying, I don’t understand tapering.  I taper because I am told it is good for me.  I also want to show up at the start line healthy.  I figure a healthy start will give me a better chance of having a healthy finish.

Tapering for the big event is a difficult thing.  You work so hard to get into great shape only to rest for the last few weeks leading up to the big event.  I was cycling my training up and down for 3 months to get ready for the marathon, now I am supposed to rest the few weeks going into the marathon.  My running buddies can do a marathon every 6-8 weeks with no problems.  They don’t need to taper, why should I?  I feel great; I should be able to go out for some speed work, a couple of days before the marathon.  I am tapering, I will just let my legs “carry me” for 4 miles.

Now that I am tapering for a marathon, I realize why I write a plan before I start training and stick to it.  I may vary on the day to day implementation of the plan but overall, I am pretty close.  The reason I create and follow the plan is simple.  When I am planning an event, marathon or triathlon, I am in planning mode.  To plan an event, I work on my current fitness level, what worked and what others recommend.  I take my work schedule and current ambition level into account when creating the plan.  Now that I have the plan, I move into work mode and just follow the plan.  Following the plan takes emotions out of the picture.  There are days, when I just want to roll over and go back to sleep because it is too cold to go out and run.  No excuses, stick to the schedule.  There are days when I feel great and just want to go out and tear up the trails.  Slow down, stick to the schedule.  When it is time to taper, I just want to out and do tempo runs because that is how my legs “carry me”.  Slow down, stick to the schedule.

I also take my brain into account.  I am tapering for a marathon that will happen next week.  I have an ambition for a triathlon in 9 or 10 months.  While I am doing my taper training, my mind is wandering toward big bike rides.  I realize 2 things from my cross training dreams.  I want to do a big triathlon next year.  In order to complete a big triathlon, I will have to finish the marathon healthy.

You may ask yourself how a triathlon that will happen in 10 months will impact a marathon taper.  It is because I need to finish the marathon in good shape in order to start the triathlon training.  To finish the marathon, I will need to show up healthy and slow down during the run to increase my odds of finishing healthy.  Tapering is individual.  Do your best.  Take it easy and have fun.

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