Tapering Begins! Phew!
It's not unusual for marathoners to commit mistakes in this phase. For starters, mistake of trying to cram too much in the final weeks be it carbs, mileage, speedwork. Just like preparing for exams, preparing for a marathon needs to be approached on a consistent manner. A last-minute-burning-the-midnight-oil approach won't work and in fact can screw things up bad. Most will be well aware of injury and illness risks what with the wet weather these past weeks. The body needs to recover from all the tearing up and rebuilding of the body as a result of all the months of training. On the flip side, don't rest too much! Check out the link below for some suggested workouts.
Whacking too much carbs will only result in fluid retention - you know the feeling of bloatedness. Nancy Clark, R.D., a sports nutritionist in Boston, recommends taking in 55 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 15 percent from protein, and 20 to 30 percent from fat. Ensure the proteins are low in fat, such as chicken, fish, lean meats, beans, and legumes. Some advocate a carb depletion phase in the final week up to 3 days of race day. This school of thought seeks to bring down the level of glycogen stored in the muscles with hard running like tempos and mile repeats. Then start loading up again from Thursday right up to Sunday race day. The boost in glycogen is apparently obvious enough to see some spectacular results. Personally I wouldn't risk this preferring a more consistent approach of loading.
Of course, there's the confidence level that needs some attention. One may feel imaginary twinges in the muscles, creaky joints - everything tend to be amplified during this period of relative quietness. Don't let that get into your psyche. You may still feel a little tiredness at the beginning of your taper but by end of the week, lethargy will have disappeared to be replaced by a feeling of raring to go - like a restrained greyhound at the start of a race. OK, bad analogy. Do a greyhound and you'll likely hit the wall hard. Think instead smooth and powerful.
There may also be some doubts on whether one can hold a goal pace. My personal experience is not to think or dwell on it. There can never be an absolute confidence for folks our level, so why waste precious resources worrying about it? Just go into the race and run according to feel - I had no expectations (in fact I had a little dread) at the start of GE but somehow managed to crank out a better than expected race. Go with the flow, monitor the body and not be limited by the pace factor.
Finalizing your race day strategies and gear would also take your mind off needless mental anguish. What to wear, what to eat etc... If it was too early to think about that last week, doing it this week would be timely.
For more tips on tapering, visit this fellow pia kaki's website.
Labels: KLIM '08