This includes weeks 2 and 3, the final week, of taper. The last week is a partial week because my final run (before a shakeout on Sunday) was April 12. I will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17.
All in, I ran 906 miles over the past 17.5 weeks. I’m pleased with how the entire cycle went. As with any training, it had ups and downs. One of the biggest challenges was training through a brutal North Dakota winter. We were pummeled with multiple feet of snow through several winter storms and dangerously cold temperatures. My personal limit for outdoor running is an air temp (without wind chill) of -5.
Most of my quality runs (track work, tempo, race pace) were done on my treadmill, alone, in my dark basement. Beyond the physical challenges, the mental challenge of regular longish runs (up to 12 miles) took its toll.
I did manage to hit every single mile prescribed in the plan. I’m pretty proud of that.
Through the weeks, I developed one pretty bad cold and dealt with one serious niggle. Luckily, I was able to train through both with slight pace adjustments. Note: this is only recommended if your body can handle it. If you are seriously sick or injured, please don’t run through it. Stop and seek appropriate medical treatment.
The thing that took me by surprise this taper was my hunger. It was/is out of control. I eat just over 2,000 calories a day, which is normally more than satisfying. Through the taper, I usually ate almost all of those calories by 11 a.m. I did go over a few days when I thought it was necessary. I don’t remember experiencing hunger like this before through any other tapering period. Luckily, my weight is stable and I’m at my perfect, comfortable race weight.
Taper Week 2
•8 easy, 8:53 pace
•6 easy in the morning, 8:47 pace
•5 easy after work, 8:32 pace
•11 miles total
•9.5 easy in the morning, 8:37 pace
•3.5 easy after work, 8:41 pace
•13 miles total
•7 with race pace strides, 8:05 pace
•8 easy, 8:28 pace
•8 easy, 8:30 pace with some race pace blocks
Total miles: 55
Taper Week 3
•6 easy, 8:27 pace
•6 easy, 8:31 pace
•6 easy, 8:13
Thursday – Saturday
•Rest, rest, rest
•2 mile shakeout run, very slow
Total miles: 20
I’ve found I like a non-traditional taper, usually running high volume until the final week. This calms my nerves. One change I did make was running the prescribed miles during week 2 of taper (55), but taking out all advised speedwork. In lieu of that, I threw in some race pace strides. This kept me mentally happy.
Another survival technique was running almost all of these final miles with friends. It’s a great chance to catch up and get outside of your head.
The last week is where I really taper hard – minimal, easy miles. In the few days leading up to a marathon, I become really aware of how much I’m moving and try to limit that as well. I’m normally a pretty active person (20,000+ steps a day) so it can be hard for me to sit more and move less, especially when dealing with pre-race nerves.
I fly out to Boston tomorrow. I know most people are already there or arriving long before late Saturday, but I want to minimize my time in Boston before the race. Pre-race nerves will likely hit me hard once I’m there, so I’d rather have only one day to explore the expo, then run.
I’m so anxious to take in this monumental marathon. It really will be a dream come true.