Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seven Days of Taper Trauma: Heavy Legs (Day Two)

Golden Rule of Taper: Thou shalt not run too fast, nor too slow.

There is a lot of science out there regarding the benefits of chillaxing before a marathon to let your muscles repair themselves from months of tearing them down via speed sessions, hill repeats, tempo workouts and long runs. The consensus seems to be that, yes, tapering helps athletes perform better on race day. But, say the experts, it's also possible to be too lazy during the taper. Everyone (and every coach) has a unique strategy and idea of what works best--which makes sense since every athlete has had a unique training build-up and a unique reaction to hard and easy efforts--but the goal for all of us is rest and recover without getting rusty. So, athletes do what works best for them: They run some pick-ups, do a hard mile here and there...whatever it takes to shake off the cobwebs and remind their legs that they're speedy and light and fast.

So what should you think if your legs feel heavy, sluggy, slow and blah during those "easy, breezy, mac & cheesy" runs of tapering? You have a taper freak-out, my friends. Thankfully, RW has pinpointed this as another common taper "trap." And I'm happy to see it, because, quite honestly, I feel like an FBI agent constantly and covertly monitoring my body's every twitch and creak at this point. So when I hit the road for some slow running interspersed with pick-ups--like I did this morning--and none of it feels easy or light or fun...that's scary. Yes, hellooooo taper trauma.

A little blame, I think, goes to this frustrating Chicago weather. As Kate pointed out in our reader poll earlier this week, the weather can really put the brakes on your workout plans or execution. I trotted out wearing a fleece vest and windbreaker, plus gloves and a headband this a.m. and was greeted by 25mph gusts of wind along the lakefront and spitting rain. So, it sucked feeling slow and never really getting to dig into a pick-up, but on the upside, it did make me feel tough and hardcore. Yeaaaaah, we live in Chicago; we battle the elements!!! Except...it's one thing to feel tough in a training run, it's quite another to actually have to be tough on marathon day. What if it's hot...or windy like today...or freezing? Eeek, I'll save that meltdown for tomorrow. Posted by Liz

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