The Runner's Reward

Friday, October 24, 2014

Taper, Taper, Tapas: One week from the Marshall Mangler 50k

I'm one week out from my first 50k and second trail race! It has been a crazy 2 months of training and as always during a taper I find myself nervous. I could have prepared more, I could have run more miles, I should have cross-trained more (I really should have cross-trained more). All these thoughts keep popping up. Of course I did prepare. I think I did well too, but these are the thoughts that inevitably come to me leading up to a big event.

So what is a taper? It is a planned reduction in volume of training (ie how many miles I run) leading up to a long race. This reduction after a build up allows the body to rest and heal. It also gives time to top off the tank with glycogen. Glycogen is the primary fuel burned in running. Have you heard runners talk about carb loading? Complex carbohydrates are the best sources for topping off your muscles glycogen reserves. So what is the best way to taper? How do you carb load?

Taper time!
Tapering is a reduction in training volume before an endurance event. When should you taper? I taper for any distance from the Half Marathon up. Different people taper differently. In running everything comes down to what works for you and your body. There is no 100% correct advice, but there are a few guidelines.

By most schools of thought the taper should be 2-3 weeks long. I shoot for two.  The reduction in miles run per week should drop during that time. I reduce my mileage by about 10% the first week and up to 25-35% the week of the race. But again, different people taper differently.You will find what works for you.

Along with the drop of miles I choose to reduce or eliminate speedwork during the week of the race. That being said when tapering reduce mileage, but not effort! You still want to run your runs like you have during training. Just avoid the all out efforts. No hill workouts, no long speed sessions.

I take a day or two off before the race. Maybe take a walk,do some stretching and yoga,or a light bike ride.

Okay! We've got the taper covered. What about carb loading?  

                                                                 Not this way!

If you are on a low carb diet, Atkins or something similar, you really need to consider more carbs if you are going to run distance events. You can get away with running a 5 or 10k carb depleted. Maybe, just maybe even a half marathon, but it's going to be an ugly day if you try to run a marathon or longer without a abundant source of healthy carbs in your diet. Healthy is the keyword here. Eating 25 candy bars or spooning down a 5lb bag of sugar is not the way to go! Whole grain breads, pasta, rice,sweet potatoes...mmm mmm That's where it's at sans two turntables and a microphone.

 This way!

How do you carb load?  First, we aren't looking to binge on nothing but carbs. According to Dr. Leslie Bonci, Director of Sports Nutrition Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Center for Sports Medicine-UPMC, it really is as simple as adding one additional  "fist-sized" serving of carbs on top of your normal meal portions.  I start 3-4 days out from the race. The night before I eat a light meal. No heavy fats (sorry bacon) , but some healthy fats (avocado, my precious) and a smaller serving of lean protein (chicken). 

During this time make sure you are drinking enough. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

That is it! Nothing to it, right?

Race Day!
The morning of the race you want to top off your glycogen tank. Four hours before the race I will eat a light breakfast. Oatmeal, a banana, coffee, and toast with peanut butter. Two hours before the race perhaps another piece of toast and a banana and a sports drink. I use salt stick caps plus with a glass of water  or Nuun. Use what works for you and what you used in training!

So this week I will be following the general plan we just talked about. And come Saturday you can find me rocking out 31 miles on what the race director describes as "challenging, aggressive trail" in Pittsburgh's own North Park! Hope to see you there!

No comments:

Post a Comment