“Don’t get injured, don’t get sick… don’t get fat”.. that is my tapering mantra and I am sticking to it. OK so I am kind of joking about the don’t get fat part, but in all seriousness, I read somewhere that each pound of weight above your “ideal racing weight” you carry on a marathon adds a minute to your time. While I am no elite, and probably will never be at my ideal racing weight, I don’t want to gain unnecessary pounds during the tapering phase.
The T-word is usually one of the most dreaded things in a marathon training plan. Most marathoners hate it because after months of pushing your limits it feels so unnatural and can be really hard to navigate, but I carry a secret shame: I love tapering! (remind me of that in 2 weeks). But no really, I do. I get to reduce my mileage but still get to run. Things don’t hurt but I still get to push it a little on my workouts. I get more time to do yoga and core work. Basically, tapering is awesome. The one area of tapering I have had trouble with is nutrition. I don’t typically measure amounts of things or follow any super strict nutrition plan during training. I avoid junk and sugar and try to eat lots off whole foods with the occasional treat. This approach works ok when I am running 50-60 miles a week, but can quickly result in a little unwanted padding during tapering. This year I am going to be a lot more strict with nutrition and balance carbs with protein. Even though its now only 2 weeks to go, here is my plan for the final 3 weeks before Boston.
Three Weeks Out
The plan was nothing crazy here, just a gentle reduction in mileage. Reduce overall mileage by 85% which means dropping from 55 – 47.
My goal was to still have a “speed” workout and tempo workout and a weekend run with some marathon pace miles, but the volume of the speed and tempo sessions are dropped by about a third, so instead of 3 x 2 mile on Tuesday I would do 2 x 2 mile and instead of 10 miles tempo, I would do 8. What really ended up happening is I had a conference in Seattle and tweaked my Achilles trying to incorporate some of PT’s advice into my form. I did get in quite a lot of miles at or under marathon pace and worked in a lot of hills on my long run, but I only ended up running 4 days and logging 33 miles. I avoided getting sick though, and have confidence my achilles will sort itself out in a couple days.
Two Weeks Out
This week will feel pretty light on running but that’s ok. Reducing overall mileage by 70%, so using 55 as the baseline means we are at 38 miles.
This will be the final speed workout and based on Bart Yasso’s wisdom I plan on doing a 10 x 800 at marathon goal time to test my readiness. This is the last hard workout and occurs 13 days before the big day. I will do some tempo miles and an 8 mile “long run” this week.
One Week Out
This is the only week of tapering I don’t love. I plan on running 5-6 miles M, W, F and a 2-ish mile shakeout on Sunday. I will probably do some fartlek intervals on Wed to make sure my legs feel alive. When I am itching to go for a run on an off day, I will remind myself that about 6 months ago, this would have been an epic week of running for me. The trick this week is not to get too tired out with all the excitement of marathon weekend in Boston.
We’ve all done it…. eaten a giant plate of pasta the night before a race because we heard somewhere we need to carb load. I am no nutritionist but I have learned over the years that carb loading is a lot more complex and needs to start way earlier than pasta the night before. Here is my plan for nutrition the 3 weeks before Boston:
Alcohol: So yeah, I like me a glass of wine every now and then. I have had only a handful of beers or liquor drinks this entire training period and have felt pretty great. I will not eliminate completely the wine because one of my superstitious pre-race traditions is to have a glass of Chianti with dinner to help me sleep, but I will further reduce my intake. Say 2 glasses a week.
Carbs: The goal for carbohydrates should be to maintain a daily intake of 3-5 grams per pound of body weight so for me that’s about 450 grams a day. I prefer to get my carbs from quinoa, brown rice and fruit. I will post meal plans when I get to making them, but generally if you have tapered and carb loaded correctly you should be carrying a cpl extra pounds of water weight when you head to the starting line.
Protein: The goal for protein should be approximately 0.6-0.7 gram per pound so I would need about 112 grams of protein in a day. This should be easy and my favorites are chicken, salmon and eggs. Also, many of the grains I enjoy have pretty high protein levels as well – ahem quinoa.
Fat: Fat is still important but at this phase, you generally want to reduce your intake and shift the balance more to carbs.Fat’s should still be about 20% of your total calories and try to make smart choices about what kind of fat it is: use less salad dressing but add avocado, for example.
what’s your tapering plan?