The Team ELM 'River Runners', ready to ROCK their 1/2 marathon and 10k events this past weekend! They are sooooo excited to run after their taper! Woot Woot! Congrats ladies! You really did ROCK the course!
You did it. Weeks and months of dedication to 'the plan'. You went to bed early and slipped out of the house before anyone else was up. You said no to the Saturday night pub crawl and all of your Sunday's were spoken for. They thought you may have lost your mind. But you knew you had actually found it on the trail, in the sunrise, and at the end of a long slow run.
Forget the race. The training is really the hardest part of the journey. And you did it.
10, 14, 20 weeks of training are behind you now. It didn't go exactly as you had planned. It never does. You wish you could have done more. Gone longer. Missed less of the long ones. Shoulda woulda coulda. This is the life of any athlete to toes the line. You are the book that writers write and the painting that painters paint. You will never be ready. But you are as ready as you are ever going to be. Accept this fact and move on...it's taper time, baby. Let's get this masterpiece ready for the big show.
A week or three before your event it is time to pull the plug on the training and let the fatigue wash away. The longer the event and the higher the volume of training (how many hours/week you have spent breaking down the system), the longer the taper period required to recover from it all.
In case you haven't let this one sink in yet:
You don't get stronger during the training.
You get stronger during the recovery.
Repeat it again;)
Rest and recovery are critical components of a training plan that many athletes just can't quite get their brain around. You can do all of the training you want, but if you don't include optimal levels of rest and recovery you will never reach your potential strength and optimal peak.
Failing to plan in adequate recovery can not only mean failing to reach your goal but also failure to even reach the starting line. Don't be that guy. Let your body recover, rest and regenerate and it will build into the machine you are working for. This is especially important during the taper period.
Why race on dead, broken down stumps when you can fly on strong, fresh, fast wings? Here is the low down on Taper guidelines (READ: everyone is different and these are not rules but a frame work that you must learn personalize. You are an experiment of one...get in the lab).
TAPER TIME. If this is the highlight or main event of your training...Tapering means cutting down on the volume of your training by decreasing the length or the frequency of your runs-while maintaining or even slightly increasing the intensity (same pace, less time). There should be a decrease in the number and length of your runs in your training plan. Maintain the same pace (intensity) and you will notice the effects of tapering. This tapering week will allow your body to recover from weeks or months of stress and remove the layers of fatigue that have built up. Remember: You will not improve your performance by increasing your training during the week before your event! Instead you will continue to build up fatigue. Effective tapering is taking the volume (total kms) down to 50% or even 25% of your biggest weekly volume.
Decrease volume of training by 50-75% before an important event. Ee/ 2 week taper, decrease volume by 25-50% and then by another 25% the following week leading up to the event. Maintain or even increase intensity, but decrease duration and frequency training sessions.
Provides body with additional recovery to allow for ‘peaking’ on race day. Removes built-up fatigue from weeks of training…it is carried over, even with adequate rest days built into a program. Body rebuilds stronger adapting to weeks of training. Goal is to maintain fitness while shedding fatigue. The result is increased performance on race day.
You will not see any significant training effect on race day from your high volume workouts the 7-10 days before your event. In fact, you will increase fatigue and potentially decrease performance if you train at a high volume the week prior.
The longer the event AND the more important, the longer the taper.
Choose 1-3 important A and B races to build up to…taper for these.
1-4weeks. 10K 1 week, ½ marathon 2 weeks, marathon up to 3-4 weeks, ultramarathon 4-6 weeks.