So I hinted on Tuesday that my taper and I are not getting along, but that all started this week. Last week was peachy.
I very much enjoyed the reduction in mileage and it was perfectly timed, because things really heated up at work and the longer hours + stress wouldn’t have balanced well with a typical training week.
Before we really get into it, let me tell you a little about what “tapering” means to me, since I know there are a number of different perspectives on the topic.
For me, tapering begins three weeks from race day, right after my last big long run (this cycle, 22 mi. on Nov. 1). Week one of tapering is a 15-20 percent or so reduction in mileage, and one up-tempo workout instead of two, so I’m still maintaining a decent amount of intensity.
Week two of tapering brings a 20-25 percent reduction in mileage (so about 35 percent off of peak week), and the last tempo run of the season about 10 days out. The final week is just 20 miles before race day, all easy with the exception of one “dress rehearsal” – 6 miles with the middle three at marathon pace.
Anyway, here is what the first week of my taper looked like:
The first noteworthy workout was the 800 repeats. These didn’t end up going so well.
You see, on Wednesday I decided that I had been slacking on my core work, so I decided to break out the 10-minute ab fix from the 21-day Fix and give that ago. The result: a terrible side stich on Thursday.
I got through the first two repetitions just fine (3:06 and 3:06), but by the end of the third (3:05) I was starting to feel my upper right abs right under my ribs start cramping up. By the fourth interval (3:06), the only way I was able to make it through was by pressing my fingers as hard as I could into the knot. I massaged it during the recovery, and I thought I’d be fine, but it comes back about 600 meters into the fifth interval (3:09).
I took a couple seconds to stretch out my abs and massage it a little more before I get started on the sixth, but by the 600 meter mark in that rep it got so bad I had to come to a dead stop. I massaged it out and then finished the rep (3:11), because I was feeling stubborn. But I made an important decision: I decided to call it quits.
I hate ending a workout early, but I knew that the time it would take me to stretch out my abs and get me anywhere close to being able to knock out another two intervals would be enough whereas my heart rate would fall low enough to defeat the purpose of the workout, since my heart rate would no longer be in the VO2Max zone.
If nothing else, I’m proud of myself for keeping the purposed of the workout at the front of my mind and not letting my stubbornness lead me to continuing a workout that might have just gotten me injured.
After the workout, I rolled out my abs on The Orb, and lay on my bed with my head and shoulders hanging off to stretch out the upper abs as best I could, and that seemed to do the trick and allow me to salvage the rest of the week. (I also took it very easy on Friday, relishing the second rest day of the week.)
The weekend was all about marathon pace. Saturday called for 10k at marathon pace (which I warmed up for with a relaxed, 1k warm up. This was a hard one because I felt like I just couldn’t hone in on my pace.
My GPS watch really wasn’t my friend for this as it wasn’t being very good about showing a reliable current pace (a trend lately…), so I was yo-yoing around. It was very frustrating. In the end, the MP part averaged 7:02 min/mi., faster than it should have been.
Then Sunday called for 15 miles with the final three at marathon pace. The point of all this marathon pace stuff is to make you feel mentally strong as you progress through the taper…but for me, it ended up having the opposite affect since again I struggled to hone in on the right pace. I was aiming for 7:10, but instead I got 7:00, 7:01 and 7:06… SIGH. The overall pace was 7:38 min./mi.