Taper or Train Harder?

What’s a blob to do? 

HMS Tapir (P335)
Image via Wikipedia

With only thirteen days until the Austin Half Marathon, (cue milk through nose – THIRTEEN DAYS?!?!), I am in the “tapering zone.”  For all normal people out there, “tapering” means reducing training strategically in the last weeks before the race in order to recover from hard long-run training and to be primed and peaking (not puny and peaked) on the big day.  If you’re anything like me (Procrastinators of the world unite!…Tomorrow.), this strikes you as not only counter-intuitive but downright ill-advised.  I’m an up-all-night, midnight-oil, pass-the-chocolate-covered-espresso-beans kind of crammer.  How can you cram if you’re supposed to taper? 

Brazilian Tapir at Longleat
Image by skoop102 via Flickr

So like a good, green, uninformed newbie, I hit the net.  And like all good, green, uninformed newbies, I’m more confused now than ever before.  None of the running mags agree on how to taper, and now the bloggers disagree on whether or not to taper at all.  I don’t even have any time to figure this whole thing out since the half marathon is only THIRTEEN DAYS AWAY.  I think my only recourse is to take the weenie way out, hedge my bets, and try to find some sort of middle ground.  The middle-est middle ground approach to tapering I could find was over at Active.com:

Start cutting your mileage two weeks before the race. The first week, run 75 percent of your normal mileage; the final week, run 50 percent. The first week, run 4 x 800 meters at your 10K race pace with a 400-meter jog between repeats.

The final week, run 4 x 400 meters at 5K race pace with a 200-meter jog between repeats. A few days before the race, jog two miles, then run 6 to 8 x 100-meter strides at 90 percent effort.

On track days: 1) Wear the shoes you plan to use in the marathon; 2) jog four laps before and after the workout; 3) walk or jog slowly during the recovery interval.

On “easy” days: 1) Run no faster than marathon goal pace; and 2) add walking breaks if you plan to walk at times during the marathon.

On rest days: Don’t even cross-train. Rest.” 


The Brazilian Tapir.
Image via Wikipedia



So, even though I JUST updated the site with the February Mantra and Goals for the Bloblessness Project, I am already planning to stray from that plan.  I’m leaving it posted though, because I think this moment is pretty salient in my experience as a blob.  I outlined my February Mantra and Goals back before the new year.  I had no idea what I was doing, then (as opposed to now, thankyouverymuch!).  It is important to set goals, to make them sufficiently specific so that you can not only envision them materializing, and to freaking stick to them.  But it’s equally important to reassess when circumstances change.  Like when you become injured, or when you know you can reach higher, or when you learn something new you could never have incorporated into the goal to begin with (stupid tapering).  So, now that I’m on to month two of the Bloblessness Project and only THIRTEEN days away from the half-marathon – 

Here goes nothing!


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  1. Tapering is the way to go. As you can see by what your research is showing putting a bunch of long mile runs isn’t going to help you towards your goal as much as some interval training. That being said if you can run your 10 mile runs I don’t think the last 3.1 miles is going to be unattainable.

    Do you have a goal finish time for the race?

  2. Goal finish time was 2:10. Busted that by about 15 minutes, which is a bummer, but I think I can easily get that time down for the next one. Besides, the best thing about your first race is that it’s an instant PR!

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