Tapering is as much of an art as a science, it is said. Once you have reached the peak in your training, about 2-4 weeks before the marathon, you lower training volume to allow your body to fully absorb the training. In theory, taper brings you to the race optimally trained, rested, and ready to have your best race possible. Since this is only my third marathon, it is hard to know how much tapering is optimal for my training style. I have a feeling I tapered too much in my first marathon training back in 2006; in my second I suffered an injury right at the peak of mileage and had to take almost a week off running with only three weeks to go before the marathon. Although I hate to use this expression, I feel like this time around I am the prototypical "experiment of one."
I did my longest training run of 36K on Thursday, September 16, or three and a half weeks before the marathon. That week was my biggest training week at 89K, but this week won't be much less. On Wednesday this week I did a very strong 30K run with the last 5K at or faster than race pace. My coach really liked that run, coming so soon after a hard effort in the Terry Run last Sunday. On Sunday this weekend I will do a 21-22K run where most is at race pace, which will make this week another pretty high week at over 80K. Then the real taper will begin.
In the last two weeks I will do probably a couple more medium-long runs, but probably nothing over about 15K. There will likely be a steep taper in the last week where I will take it very easy with just some tuning up. My coach has said that like the rest of the training we will discuss and plan the taper as it goes, so I am not exactly sure what I will be doing, but I know there will not be be anything too taxing.
Whatever happens I feel like I am as ready as I'll ever be for this marathon. I feel strong and confident, and I'm excited to see what the day brings me and what I can bring to the day. Another friend has warned me about the inevitable post-marathon let-down, so has suggested I plan for something fairly soon after the marathon. I have some plans, but first things first. The "big show" will be coming soon.