T-A-P-E-R! You’re finally here. And I like you. I invite you into my life. Bring on the laziness, the hydration, the stretching routine, and the weirdness of running a lower mileage this week. Sometimes I don’t like you, but you’re my friend right now. The legs agree with me. They need a little down time because they want to HAUL ASS at this weekend’s half marathon. They know they can run a personal record, but only with some rest beforehand.
In all seriousness, I am embracing the rest this week. I’ve been eating well and indulging a little bit here and there. Yesterday, I spent the entire day in a Wicker Park coffee shop working and this chocolate croissant was just calling to me.
I couldn’t resist it. Buttery-chocolatey goodness and Intellgentsia coffee? = PERFECTION.
I tend to use a taper week as a time to do things I wouldn’t normally do. Given that I’m dedicating less time to running this week, I’m finding other ways to keep myself busy. A friend asked me if I’d go with him to Fleet Feet to get some running shoes and I, of course, say YES! I love helping others decide on the right gear and the folks at Fleet Feet know their stuff. Plus, I need to stock up on some Nuun and Gu before this weekend’s race.
I’ve also been trying to be consistent in my cross-training so that I can avoid injury as much as possible. I popped in a Rodney Yee yoga DVD (yes, I’m that nerdy) the other night at home and stretched out some muscles that really needed some love. And, in the process, I worked to strengthen others that have gone unused. The Total Body routine seriously worked my back with all of those back bends (upward bow and wheel poses). My arms are even sore from holding myself up!!
Taper’s always a good time to knock some things off the To Do list too. I did 3 loads of laundry the other night, went grocery shopping, and did some other things around the apartment that I’ve been putting off. Ok, so it’s less fun and exciting than eating chocolate croissants and doing yoga, but it had to be done!
Most importantly, I’ve been working on committing my race strategy to memory. I can get pretty technical with a pace strategy, but it seems to work for me and, in general, I don’t have a tough time sticking to the plan.
My pace for the end of the half = HAUL ASS
I segment a half marathon into 5k or 3-mile increments and decide on pace according to my goal time. I’ve consistently run a PR in the half marathon by using a negative-split strategy. And the race itself feels almost like a longer version of the progressive tempo runs that I do throughout my training. Sometimes I made adjustments if the elevation presents challenges at a certain portion of the race. For example, I give myself a target pace range during a hilly part of a race course rather than a hard pace target. That way, I don’t psych myself out and get discouraged that my pace is off target.
I have to say, I get nervous just looking at the pace targets above. I wasn’t nervous for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon because I had just flown into D.C. from Madrid and I just wanted to run a good race. I told myself that if I ran a PR, I ran a PR but that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t meet that goal. But this time around, I’m setting my sights on a strong 1:36, which is 2 minutes faster that my current PR.
It’s easy to think about these things and bury yourself in nervous anxiety. But then I think about the hard work that I’ve put into this training cycle and how much faster I’ve been running my speed workouts–and I realize, I have it in me.
How do you keep your mind and body busy during a taper week? Do you have certain rituals or superstitions that help you prepare for race day?