The Art of Extreme Tapering

As the Spring marathon forums start to prepare their disciples for the art of the pre-race taper, it struck me that the Don’t Run regime provided a great opportunity for the ultimate in taper opportunities. In other words, I haven’t really just stopped running for 6 weeks plus. I’m actually making some reductions to the volume and intensity of my training so, come the big day of the race (that I just so happen to have pulled out of), I’ll feel sharp but relaxed and ready  for the challenges of the long road ahead.

So with this new, admittedly twisted way of viewing my predicament, I thought I’d review my current programme and see how I fared against the key criteria for successful tapering some of which were captured by Runner’s World in 2007. 

1. Drop your volume and intensity

Excellent performance here – after a 110 mile January, apart from running for a bus (but pulling up as the bus pulled away) and the aforementioned race for a train, the volume and intensity levels from early February to date have been exactly zero. Take that, you “slightly shorter long runs/slightly slower/fewer intervals” runners with your feeble, half hearted approaches  to the taper.

2. Cross Training

Yes, there has been some very cross training. Despite that, last week I told myself I ‘d got the cycling bug again, gazing wistfully out of the office window, longing for the charms of the long cycle home in the dark. I’m planning on a couple of commutes a week from now on, although the -6 temperatures that are forecast for tomorrow might lead to that bike rusting up in the garden for the next few months. And the preparation! The painstaking bag packing process looms over me for hours before I finally hop on the saddle in the morning, ruining the relaxation that I’d planned for the night before. Oh for the days when I’d be out of bed and out the front door ready to run in less than 5 minutes (followed by 20 minutes shivering in my shorts, waiting for the Garmin to fire up).

Meanwhile I haven’t quite got my swimming mojo back – a couple of sessions where I was left standing/treading water by my 9 year old daughter haven’t really done the trick. Maybe British Summer Time, which is allegedly imminent will help to lure me back?

Finally I’ve been fairly committed to a bit of strength training but have maintained my lifetime avoidance of going to any gym. I bought some decidedly kinky looking rubber straps in various colours and sizes to make even walking up and down the living room into a bit of a workout. I definitely need novelty in this area so have probably tried upwards of 50 different drills, but I still can’t say, hand on heart/abdomen that I really know what my core is or how to engage it.

Next time: Eating well, carbo loading and staying hydrated, the extreme approach.