“Racing is the fun part; it’s the reward of all the hard work.” – Kara Goucher
It’s been a few years since I’ve written my taper plan in the blog, so when a reader left a comment on the blog for me to explain the process, it seemed like a good idea.
Here’s an overly simplified version of my training plan in the weeks leading up to the marathon:
- Highest mileage weeks, with longest runs, fall during 3 and 5 weeks out from race day.
- The 4th week prior to the race will be a cut-back week, meaning I’ll do about 10 percent fewer miles from week 5. For instance, if my highest mileage weeks top out at 50 miles, than the “cut-back” week will be 45 miles.
- Technically, my mileage does begin to fall off during the final weeks, but not dramatically. The 3rd week will still be 75 percent of the highest week, but intensity and frequency remains the same. And I will absolutely have a long run. The mileage total drops by shaving a few miles off of weekday runs.
- The pattern continues in the 2nd week prior to race day. Frequency and intensity stay the same. Early in the week, individual workout distances remain constant. But, at the start of the 10-day taper, I will drastically cut miles. My “long run” day, in my case its usually Saturdays, will have me running 8 to 12 miles. If I feel like I need rest, I’ll keep it to the shorter side.
- During race week, I continue to cut miles, but keep intensity. I’ll take an extra day off, and aim to complete about 25 percent of my high mileage total.
In short: my goal each training cycle is to run through all conditions because the weather on marathon day is unpredictable, run on the toughest terrain possible since it will build strength and confidence, and restrict glucose levels during training for elevated benefits during the race.