This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
It’s getting close! Are you getting nervous yet? Checking the weather forecast every hour?
I often say this time the hardest time of marathon training for many runners. You’re used to working hard. There is a certain level of comfort that comes in doing the hard work. Now, that’s being taken away from you. You’re not working hard anymore and, after months of consistently working hard, you’re being asked to rest. Rest? What? That’s like a foreign language to runners. We know work!
It’s very important to get the rest in now, though. We’re 10 days out right now. The most optimistic estimates are that a workout begins to benefit you 10-14 days out from when you do it. That means, under the most optimistic assumption, today is the last day that you can do a workout and it will result in you being more fit when you line up on race day. In other words, nothing you do from here on out is going to make you more fit on race day. Your focus needs to shift from building fitness to resting and refreshing your body, while doing just enough to remain sharp and ready to run hard when race day comes.
So how do you do this? Well, the first thing I always say and the thing I’ve told several people already this week is that it’s time to think differently. Remember that you are far more likely to do harm by doing too much than by doing too little. If you are at all unsure about how much you should do now, err on the side of doing too little.
In a more broad sense, the general consensus, if there is such a thing when dealing with a taper, is that cutting volume while maintaining intensity is the most effective way to taper. This means cut your weekly mileage but not your workouts. You can do a lower volume in your workouts but keep doing them. How much to cut your volume depends on many variables and is different for everyone but I find that a range of reducing by 25% to 50% two weeks out and 50% to 75% on the week before the race works for most people. That’s a pretty broad range so here are a few things to consider when deciding how much to cut:
1) What was your training volume going in? If you were running 40 miles per week before, it’s harder to cut 50% and 75% than if you were running 80 miles per week.
2) How are you feeling? If you’re feeling good, you may not need to cut back as much. If you’re feeling beat up, physically or mentally, a more significant cut may help you recover and feel better by the time race day comes around.
As for workouts, keep doing them but cut the volume similarly. So what would have been a 4 mile tempo run might turn into 2-3 miles this week and 1-2 miles next week.
It can be tough to cut back on your training and keep up your confidence, especially if you identify as a hard working runner. If you’re struggling, review your training log. Look over all the miles and workouts you’ve been logging, all the hard work you’ve been putting in. You’ve done the work. Now is the time to rest up and absorb all that hard work so it will pay off on race day.
As for the pre-race nerves, they are normal. Reviewing your training log may help soothe those nerves. Checking the weather hourly probably won’t. For that, you may want to find some distractions.
Next week, I’ll post on Wednesday so we all can enjoy our Thanksgivings. In the meantime, rest up, make sure you’re still drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy. And try to check the weather sites only once or twice a day.