Monday, November 14, 2011

What's Your Routine The Week Of?

Jealous Much?  FEAR IT!!!
(Thank you for all of your wonderful comments on The PR Beard.  It's clear that some of you don't FEAR THE BEARD like you should.  Dare I say some even "mocked" this vicious weapon ... but you're looking at three weeks!  Okay, now you can mock me because this is all I can grow in almost a month, and I'm a full-grown man ... allegedly.  Just for the record, I'm IN NO WAY saying that I'm going to PR at this race (I learned my lesson at Sioux Falls earlier this year ... not gonna make that mistake again)  I'm just not shaving until I do PR ... for my marriage's sake, I hope it's soon!  

As for today, this won't be another "tapering sucks" post ... but I'm always interested to hear what everyone does the week before a marathon?

What's your routine the week before a big race?

I used to be a religious taperer (that word doesn't sound right).  But one of two things was always true for me ...
          1.  I didn't workout enough and lost a little intensity.
          2.  I didn't workout enough and lost A LOT of intensity.
When taper weeks rolled around, I threw it into low gear and basically took two weeks off.  You guessed it, on race day - it seemed like forever ago since I had a good workout, and I was really sluggish.

So I changed it up a little and the results have been fairly positive.  First of all, I reduced my taper weeks to one week.  Two weeks were too many for me.  Probably more psychologically than anything.  My body still feels fresh on race day with only one week of cutting back a little.  And mentally, since I've had a long run fairly recently, 26.2 doesn't seem so daunting.

Secondly, I really try to keep as much intensity as possible, while lowering the mileage a little.  Typically I'll run about 70-80 miles per week.  During a taper week, I usually run about 50-55 including the race.  That might still be a little too much - I'm tinkering with cutting it down a little more.  But also, I try to get a decent Tempo Run and Speed Workout in before the race.

Today I ran a shorter 10 mile Tempo Run, averaging about 15 seconds below Marathon Pace on the tempo miles 4-9.  On Wednesday, I'll go on a 8-10 mile slow yyyyog.  And on Thursday, I'll probably do 7-8 at a fairly good clip with several sprints mixed in.  Then probably rest on Friday and Saturday with the possibility of a 1 or 2 mile slow run on one of those days.

My biggest problem during a taper is nutrition.  It always seems when I'm standing at the starting line with a full belly, I think, "Man, probably shouldn't have eaten so much!"  I never feel as lean as I think I should.  I'm currently tinkering with this too. But the challenge is getting enough food the couple of days before, without feeling over-weight at the starting line.

For me, staying fairly fast and intense, and trying to watch what I eat the last week before a marathon has worked much better.  Just curious what you do ...
... be great today!


  1. I don't taper as much any more either, though my miles do go down percentage-wise more than yours do. I always do a 10-12 miler the weekend before, and a speed-ish workout on the Tuesday or Wednesday before, then gradually lessening easy runs. I like staying sharp too.

    If you can find a way to avoid the fullness/nutrition issue, you know I'm all ears. Sigh.

  2. I don't like the taper either. It makes me feel so lazy and unready. It puts out the competitive fire and basically I get to feeling like I don't really care about the race.

  3. I can't say much about the taper for a marathon since I have never done one only halfs, but I know that it does benefit me for halfs. I respect the taper. and don't worry not only does taperer not sound right it just doesn't look right.

  4. I eat A LOT of saltines crackers before a race. Just like you said you do. One of those white plastic sleeves full and I'm good to go! I feel somewhat bloated but I think the positives of keeping my salt intake up over running out of salt is a plus.

    I've decided not to shave my armpits until I PR. For the sake of my marriage my husband said that he would buy me some "heelies" (whatever those are) so I can get this thing over with.

  5. I always find the key to tapering is reducing the duration but maintaining the intensity. IOW, shorter runs at race pace seems to work best for me.

    I still go a little bonkers mentally but physically it works.

  6. No marathon taper experience
    just for half and taper plays tricks on my mind..nasty ones
    so I reduce mileage a bit and I skip speedwork that week and take 2 days off before race day. that's it. nutrition well I am not a reference my stomach sucks...365 days a year. boooo
    still a fan of the beard

  7. Taper is one of those things that's so individual for each, I think it's really interesting thought to hear what works for everyone.

    Yeah, nutrition is always tough...I read it's pretty normal to gain a few lbs during taper week(s) and you can use it to your advantage, but it always makes me feel too sluggish. If you find the miracle answer, be sure to share! :)

  8. I definitely decrease running mileage and no cross training either. Nutrition wise, I really try to stay the same from a calorie perspective but just different sources. Now that we are more a gluten free diet it is a bit more challenging but just add in a few more things like sweet potato or rice.
    and drink more water than humanly possible.

  9. Taper week is not a week to take off but instead lower the time and keep the intensity.

    I don't slack off on going hard I just don't go as hard for as long (TWSS)

    One week is typically enough for me and I suspect it would be for you as you are in terrific shape and taking two weeks off is not necessary.

  10. You are so right about the taper, I tapered way too much before my marathon and I felt like a slug...well I didn't run that fast either lol!

    Good luck @ your race!

  11. That is a mean beard, to be sure! ; )

    I like to cut back, especially in that final week, but I do keep the intensity in, otherwise I feel stale. Good luck with your approach!

  12. I think your plan seems solid. I absolutely suck at tapering and am convinced it has effected me at all of my marathons. Here's the thing, I have anxiety over not running and gaining like 3-5lbs in 3 days so I eat less calories to compensate which leads to awful carb loading. I've really got to get it figured out.

    P.S. Let me know about pokey marathon! I am totally down. I was actually born there way back when and it would be cool to go back. Plus they give every runner a bag of potatoes in the goody bag. Can't go wrong with that. :)

  13. Good luck...I'm rooting for a PR for Michael's sake ;)

  14. Interesting to read what you do before the big race. I HATE the taper. It makes me feel extremely anxious. I lower my mileage the last week only. Basically, I do 1 or 2 six mile runs with elevation gains (the race will make up for missed mileage), and then I cross train like I normally do. The day before the race, I do not exercise, except for some floor exercises (bridges, clams, etc). I like to eat dinner early and have something with rice. I also drink LOTS of water the day before and if it's a hot summer race, I'll probably drink a bottle of pedialyte before bed.

    Loved also reading what everyone else does.

    Good luck!

  15. I'm not experienced enough at racing to answer this question, but I've enjoyed reading the comments. Great topic!

  16. Sometimes when I read your posts, it's almost like I wrote it, or at least thought it. I've been tapering less and less for marathons, cause like you, I don't feel at my best on race day with a long taper. Whereas, often times, my best long runs are at the end of a hard week.

    I'm close to your mileage, and I'm ready to cut back a little for my Dec. 4th marathon, but I think I'll maintain close to a 70 mile week until the week of the marathon, then maybe like you, have a week in the mid 50s for marathon week.

    The taper and nutrition I'm still figuring out too. Last marathon, I didn't carbo load until the day before the race. I don't think that worked. This time, I'll try carbo loading without gorging myself 3 days prior, even if I weigh a pound or 2 more on race day.

  17. Sounds like you have a good routine down for tapering - lowering the mileage but keeping the intensity the same seems to be key.

    I still have no idea on what to do on tapering, I've only done 1 marathon, and I thought my taper was a little too long (3 weeks gradual), and I thought I lost some fitness. I think with 2 weeks until race day I was in my best shape. Next time I do a long race I'll see what feels right.

    I forgot that Oregon State won the college world series twice recently! Beaver fans indeed seemed cool to me. After hanging out with more Oregon fans last week, it seemed like Oregon State fans are more chill than Oregon fans, but it is hard to tell. Oregon fans just seemed pretty intense.

    My guess is that the Goucher's workout on a different track, it would be hard to coach the runners on the track I was at at Nike - because you couldn't see to the other side of the track because of the trees! lol


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