Home Running Marathon Training Marathon training: Should you bend until you break?! (Plus 8 tips for a successful taper)

Marathon training: Should you bend until you break?! (Plus 8 tips for a successful taper)



This bird is cooked!  Tapering for the Boston Marathon 2015 has officially begun and I’ll admit that I am relieved! During my two weeks of highest volume (March 16-29) I logged 130 hard miles and my body, heart and soul were all tired and sore… oh so very sore. Let’s just say that I moaned every time I moved from the floor to standing position and when I flexed my calf muscle I couldn’t even see the muscle because my leg was swollen.Sick and gross, but sadly true. Yes, between all those hard workouts and miles the body had taken a beating. However, that is the beauty of training: you push your body so incredibly hard, get close to its breaking point and then YOU BACK OFF!! You don’t need to bend until you break! Never! The idea is to not break at all!! It is to explore and expose that fine line (that is unique to every person) of exactly how hard you can push without over-training and getting injured.

You may recall that a month or so ago I set a goal for myself to hit 80 miles a week during this training cycle. After a few weeks of hitting just over 70 mile/week it became clear that 80 miles/week would have been too much stress on my body. There comes a point of diminishing returns where adding more miles does not make you a faster, better runner and where the runner begins to risk over training/injury. Somewhere between 70-75 miles/week seems to be my sweet spot for marathon training and honestly I’m ok with that! Between work, family life, maintaining the blog and running I don’t have the time I would need to properly rest and recover from more miles.

Pat Wheeler, professional triathlete and run coach at Your26.2  really put this into perspective for me when he said,

“A good rule of thumb is if you’re running 8 hrs a week- you need another 4 hrs for recovery “stuff”. Ask yourself, do I have 12 hours a week to give to this? If the answer is “No” then you’re running too much.”

This stopped me in my tracks (when I was logging close to 10+ hours of weekly run time) because I don’t have 5-6 hours of recovery time. At least I haven’t structured my training that way- YET (Insert evil laugh here with future plans of how to run more miles;) Take THAT Wheeler!).

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Top line: last week’s workouts and the beginning of taper!
Middle and bottom lines: two peak weeks of workouts (with one sick day 🙁 and missed 20 miler)


The diagram above displays my runs from the past three weeks. It is fairly easy to see that the top line represents a lighter mileage and the beginning of taper process. Phew! The previous two weeks were incredibly strenuous (as they should be) and truly challenged me as a runner. I actually had a countdown going: 5 days till taper, 4 days, 3 days, 2, then the pox death-like virus arrived. Either way, my coaches at Your 26.2 assure me that miles have been logged, the work has been done and what’s most important now is to rest the body and prepare the mind for race day!


Tips for a Successful Taper:

  1. Reduce overall mileage and a take few days off to allow the body time to repair from the wear and tear of the months of rigorous training.
  2. Complete more runs at “base pace”/ easier pace to facilitate the repair process in the body; no need to break the body down more
  3. Incorporate a few key workouts (1-2 speedier runs/week) to keep the body sharp and focused
  4. Sleep more!
  5. Eat less! ~ It’s pretty simple really, when you are running 70 miles/week you need more calories than when you run 35 miles/week. Runners need to be careful during this time to watch their food intake and control cravings… most of the time.
  6. Create a pacing plan.
  7. Explore what your pace feels like (without looking at your watch) in your breath, legs and body on the run.
  8. Mentally prepare for race day. (review course map, read other bloggers tips, where are the water stops/etc).

Taper means more time to rest, recover and hunt for Easter eggs.


I can’t believe that I’ll be running Boston in less than two weeks! Ahhh!

Never Stop Running,

The Lone Runner



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