Sunday, February 28, 2016

To taper or not to taper - more self experimentation

What I mean by "to taper or not to taper" is really the "traditional" view of reducing mileage progressively over 2-4 weeks before a race. I've always been a great fan of that, even when I wasn't doing much mileage to begin with. I'd average about 25 miles per week, then get frantic two months before a race, ramp up to about 35-40 with a long run in the mountains on weekends, do that for 3-4 of the next 6 weekends, then do pretty much nothing for two weeks while trying not to drink or smoke too much... The races I'm talking about are in the 40-50 miles range in the mountains (usually about 12'000 feet of elevation), and though I was never aiming for speed, I'd always finish, even if the last few hours were a slugfest and parts of it often involved quite a bit of suffering, and as the years passed I slipped closer and closer to the bottom of the rankings. And evidently whatever I did in 2014 - there was no speed or structure to my training and probably I didn't really increase my mileage a huge amount (not to mention the slight issue of a dislocated shoulder) - wasn't enough  to finish the 100-mile UT4M...

Anyway, now that I had a more constructive year of training last year, and have done quite well since the beginning of the year on my "base training", averaging 40 miles a week now after some "speed training" in November, I'm eager to see how that will translate in the upcoming Cabornis race, 25 miles and 6'000 feet of elevation on which I hope to test my speed.

However, tapered I have not, or at least I am experimenting something different, having just completed my biggest week in two months, though I plan to do only about 12 miles of easy running with some sprints spread out between Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday - and a bit of biking. We'll see what happens. Even though I want to "race" the Cabornis, not just run it comfortably, I'm also using it to find out more about how my body functions/reacts. Because after all, there's no set recipe for tapering, everyone is different, and I want to see what works best for me in time for the Swiss Irontrail in August (not to mention anyway that I heard that tapering for too many races reduces its effectiveness).

Well, these are really just reasons made up after the fact - this situation really came about when I realized last month that the 3 weeks on, 1 week off in terms of ramping up mileage then having a recovery week, wasn't perhaps best for me (a factor of age? - 44 - and the fact that I don't have a history of big mileage?), but rather 2 weeks on, 1 week off (maybe I'm just a bit lazy, but I did come close to an injury in January and it's been much better since I scaled back the following week and settled into the 2/1 rotation So this is race week but it also needs to be a "week on" if I want to keep following my pattern, with a lower mileage recovery week after the race. Hence the big week last week and some mileage this week to add to the race mileage and have a decent week...

Does that make sense to anyone but me?!

Anyway, point is, I'll learn much more this way about how (not) tapering effects me, how much recovery I need, bla bla bla.

And what is more fun that experimenting on oneself?

Also, whatever happens, it's a nice feeling to have completed stage one of the new this-is-me-structuring-my-training program, i.e. consistent higher mileage running for fun not looking at watch with a bit hill sprints, before moving on stage two in which I have planned to keeping up my mileage and increasing a bit more, but mainly implementing some speed work. 

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