I can’t believe it is here already. I’m referring to taper time. With only one month to go before the 24-hour run I need to start backing down off the huge miles I have been putting in and rest the legs. For the last five months my training has consisted of pounding out as many miles and as many hours as my body would allow me to go. The last couple months have been rough. In February I ran more miles than I have ever done in one month in my life. nearly 400 miles! My average distance per run was 17 miles. The first half of March was not what I had planned. I’ve been battling a foot injury and instead of spending 3 hours a day running like I had planned, I’m spending 1 hour running and 2 hours on the bike so I can heal the foot. The long runs are still in the 30-60 mile range. Everyday my alarm goes off at 4 am and with the first steps of the day my legs remind me what I have been putting them through for the last 5 months. I’m tired, I feel beat up and I’m looking forward to the taper. It’s time to start feeling good again. Time to get light, get loose and get fast.
Get light: Believe it or not. I can’t get down to my race weight when I’m running 100 miles a week. I just can’t stop eating. Especially after my weekend long run my body craves food for days. And it is not craving vegetables! It wants calories. Now that the real long runs and high mileage are behind me I will drop those last 5 pounds before run day. Believe me, carrying around 5 fewer pounds for 24 hours makes a big difference. Dieting may be the hardest part of the taper for me. I have the willpower to run for 24-hours but the cookie jar will break me every time. Seriously though, my diet will become very important in the last few weeks and the only things going in will be healthy foods and plenty of water.
Get loose: I stretch for a good half hour almost every day and I spend lots of time in the hot tub, but because of the constant training every day I typically wake up sore and stiff. My legs, my core, my feet and ankles, my hips have all been working overtime and as a result they are always just a little tight. That’s about to change. With the reduced mileage I will spend more time stretching and massaging the legs and do more cross training to improve mobility and flexibility.
Get fast: For 5 month I’ve been pounding out the miles for hour after hour. The focus on my training has all been about mileage. To go along with the get light and get loose, now I will also get fast. The workouts will be much shorter and much more intense. In the next 3 weeks I’ll work on the cardio and getting really fit.
When the sun comes up on the morning of April 22nd I’ll be 100% recovered from the 6 months of heavy training and the body will feel fresh. I will be lean and I’ll be fit. I feel really good about my training. It hasn’t always gone the way that I wrote it up but that’s to be expected. I’ve pushed to the breaking point and listened when my body said it needed a rest. Nothing left to do but Go the Distance.