Week 2 - Chicago Marathon Training + Dealing with the Taper

It's almost here. It's hard to believe this race is less than 2 weeks away. To say I'm nervous is an understatement. To say I feel unprepared and unsure of myself is a fact. I have to let that all go now, because I'm doing this race and I'm going to put my whole heart into race day and hope my body shows up. Now I just have to get through the taper.

My long run this past weekend was my last opportunity to try another fueling option and I didn't do it. I carb loaded the night before with pasta and banana nice cream, hoping that the pre race fuel would suffice for my 15 mile run. It did. And then I ruined it. The goal was a 2 mile warm up and 13 miles at goal marathon pace (7:27 - 7:30). I was successful up to mile 11. I had to stop for a street light and luckily there was water there (I also went out without a water bottle because I will not be carrying one with me at Chicago, at least that's the plan). I started my run later than usual and it was pretty warm. I got greedy with the water and took in a ton. I took off back at marathon pace as soon as the light turned green and my right rib cage was immediately stuck in one of those stabbing side stitches. I took about 2 electrolyte pills before the run where normally I'd take 5-6. Either way, I ended up calling it off at mile 11.2 and doing a 3 mile cool down. It was a bit of an uncontrollable factor that took me out, but I won't be chugging water like that in my race. I'm still a little confused about fueling for the race, but I'm going to take it in stride. I just want to stay relaxed during this taper period and not overthink it too much.

I think people struggle with tapering for 3 reasons. First, they drop their speed workouts and do all easy miles, which makes them feel like their losing muscle/strength. Second, they don't stick to their schedule which can result in lack of consistency or not dropping your miles enough leading up to race day.

Most advanced runners don't have to drop speed workouts at all and can keep their mileage up with their marathon acting as their long run for that week. This doesn't necessarily work for me, but there is one thing I will say about consistency and how that helps reduce the craziness of tapering. While I recommend slowing down at least the week of the race, I'm still planning two "speed" workouts this week and one for next week. These will not be anything faster than goal marathon pace, but it's to remind my legs what it's like to go fast and keep my fitness level up. 

Sticking to the schedule is something I learned from my third marathon cycle. I didn't drop any days, but just lowered my mileage and paces appropriately. It helped keep me sane and still feel rested. I do a 3 week taper. I'm lowering my mileage this week by 30 percent from my peak mileage (55) to 37-40 miles total. Last week I lowered it by 15% to 46. Race week, I'll plan to hit 52-54 miles which will include my marathon and is about where my peak was. Not lowering your mileage risks injury and general fatigue. I don't get enough rest if I don't lower by at least 30% the week before. All of this is based on your max miles for any given cycle.

Week 2 Schedule:

Monday: 6 recovery miles + planks
Tuesday: 8 miles - 2 m w/u + 3 x 1 mile repeat @ GMP + 2 mile c/d
Wednesday: 8 miles - 2 mile w/u + 4 @ GMP + 2 mile c/d
Thursday: 4 recovery
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 12 mile aerobic run

Kim is coming into town this weekend so we will get to do our last long run together! I'm very excited to have her in Chicago racing with me. Good luck to everyone tapering this week. Don't go too crazy!

What is your typical taper method?

How do you work through side stitches during a run?

J