Time to Taper …. Race Day Approaching

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Training
Tags: , , ,

Two more training runs and it’s “taper time”.  What’s that you say?  Taper for a 10K race?  Joe, you run at least 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) each and every time you go out and run.  What would you “taper” for such a short race for?

Welcome to the internal “debate” that my body and mind have been having for the better part of the last month.  If we had a marathon on the schedule for next Sunday, of course we would be firmly in the taper period now.  Where you reduce your mileage and training intensity leading up to race day morning.

The belief is that the “taper period” before a marathon or “goal race” such as the IBM Uptown Classic is able to improve race-day performance by approximately 3%.  Any tough individual training workout is estimated to only help your performance a little less than 1%.

It is for this reason that most endurance athletes and coaches believe that to really zero in on a key race, preparing to run your very best, a taper is the way to go.  My typical marathon cycle, discounting the Run for Dom two-marathon in 13 day extravaganza last year, is a three-week taper.

I cut my mileage by 75% during the first week of the taper, 50% in the second week and then finally down to 25% prior to race day.  This reduction in mileage also allows my body to heal from the previous 15 weeks of heavy training.  All in an effort to prepare to run the 26.2 mile marathon distance as fast as I possibly can.

For a 10K race, less than ¼ the distance of the marathon, a three-week taper would be far too long.  Most professional runners and accomplished amateurs recommend a 7-10 day taper for a 10K race.

I opted for a taper period of the 7 day variety leading up to IBM.

This means that after my 6.2 mile workout on Saturday and 12-mile training run on Sunday, things will slow down quite a bit on the training font.  I will run a nice and easy 6-7 mile recovery run in New York City’s Central Park on Tuesday morning and an 8-mile marathon pace run once again in NY on Wednesday before my flight back home to Austin.  Once back on Texas soil I will run a short and easy 5-miler on Thursday.

After a rest day on Friday I will run just a quick shake-out 2-miler on Saturday morning with a couple of strides mixed in and start getting mentally ready for IBM on Sunday.

Total mileage next week will only reach 21.2 miles prior to the race, compared to the 42-46 miles we have been averaging over the last 6 weeks.  The hope is that the decrease in mileage and intensity will provide the extra “snap” that I will need to really push pace and hold it steady for more than 6 miles next Sunday.

That coupled with some “race morning mojo” and the few seconds per mile I will pick up running in my Brooks T6 Racing flats should put us in position for a big day at IBM.

I can feel the excitement of the race starting to build as even this morning on the tri-bike trainer I felt like I was pedaling stronger, more confidently, pushing harder with the payoff coming just 9 days from now.

3% improvement equates to exactly 1 minute for a 40:00 minute 10K runner.  Should the taper do it’s magic, things are looking good for next week and our quest to earn that sub 40:00 10K time at IBM.

Going to be an exciting week of travel and preparation coming up, I haven’t been this keyed up for a race since the Boston Marathon last April.  That race you might recall did not go entirely the way I had it planned. 

Don’t be against me this Sunday, it’s a suckers bet if there ever was one.

  1. Awesome plan Joe! I think you are doing everything you can and so meticulously to meet (and beat) your goal.

    My recommendation for Central Park (my parents live across the street) is to run the big loop (up to you if you want to include “heartbreak hill”) and when you are on the east side at the main entrance to the reservoir, head up and do one loop there. That should give you the mileage (lopp without hill is 5 miles, 6-7 with hill, reservoir is ~1.5) you need and give you a great tour of the park. If you’ve never run the reservoir, it’s an absolute must…crowded but historic!

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Hi AJ! Thanks so much for the visit! I didn’t know that your parents lived in NYC – I used to travel there about 6-7 times a year until my job changed a bit over the last two years, now it really is just once a year or so to visit our client(s) at NYU.

    I LOVE running the park and I know exactly the outer loop that you speak of. That hill is fantastic training. I actually passed Anthony Edwards (Goose from Top Gun) in the park last year which was pretty cool. Great people watching.

    Hope you and R have a great weekend! I’ll be thinking about you next week during my trip. Best from Austin, J

  3. Jodi Higgins says:

    Best of luck with your taper Joe! You are going to crush IBM. I have a question though for you wise Coach “RG” …I realize I am tapering this week as well however you have me down for a tempo run Tuesday morning. Is that still okay or should I be doing recovery runs after my 5 mile pace tomorrow and my 12 mile long run on Sunday? Just want to make sure I am doing everything right!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Jodi! Feeling good about things for sure right now. There is some disagreement among runners about the taper. Some say just reduce the mileage and not the intensity, others say reduce both.

      When we put your plan together (like mine), Tuesday tempo miles are just fine as long as your are feeling good and don’t have any bumps or bruises.

      By Thursday though, dial back and just take it easy (no hill work/repeats).

      You are looking great Jodi! Enjoy the weekend!

  4. onelittlejill says:

    You have a great plan and so far you have been executing it fabulously! I have nothing but great feelings about this race for you!!!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jill! Thanks for the vote of confidence. Funny how race day confidence usually leads to success – I’m just going to try to get the mental side ready for Sunday as I think we’re there physically.

      (How about those Phillies last night? Man, you can just never give up on those guys – a lot of heart on that squad).

      • onelittlejill says:

        They are all about the 7th inning comeback! It was awesome 🙂 Let’s hope it continues!!!

      • joerunfordom says:

        Hi Jill! I would have had a ton of kids by now if it would have gotten our Phillies a few more rings. (I thought of Rolen’s remarks on every srikeout. All 8 of them!)

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