Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reversing the Taper

I'm sure most people reading this blog are familiar with the idea of a taper before a race. If not, it's essentially a reduction in workout/running mileage before a big race. In the week before my 50k, it looked like this:

Monday: REST
Tuesday: 3 mile run
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: 4 mile run (moderate pace)
Friday: REST
Saturday: 50k race
Sunday: 45 minute EASY walk

I know there are conflicting thoughts on this kind of taper, and I think that everyone is different, but I wanted to share my opinion. I was worried I would feel stiff, but in actuality my legs felt very fresh, especially after a few miles of running. Of course I got antsy and was eager to be running prior to the race, but I think I would have had race anxiety no matter what. Overall? Success, for me. I'll probably stick to a really conservative mileage week like this before marathon distances (or longer) in the future.

But what about AFTER the race? Usually I take a day or two off from running and then ease into it, but in this case it is really important to me that I recover fully and don't let myself run more than I should. So I decided to go for the "reverse taper", which is essentially your taper week in reverse. (It's a clever name, isn't it?) So here's how the past week went post-50k:

Couch time and cat cuddles are vital to recovery!

Monday: 30 minute easy spin (no resistance)
Tuesday: 4 miles of flat, easy running
Wednesday: 1 hour of spin
Thursday: 4 miles easy running
Friday: REST
Saturday: 1 hour, 15 minutes spin
Sunday: 10 mile run

My body is pretty much happy with this plan. So far I feel like I came out without injuries or pain (knock on wood) and next week I should feel well enough to tackle a 20 miler as the final long run to preparation for my marathon on November 10th.

I'm curious to hear about how other people recover from longer races. Do you have a set plan that you stick to - i.e. no running for 5 days - or do you just listen to your body and take it day by day?
 In theory I would just "listen to my body," but I know that I have a habit of enjoying a run and going maybe a little longer or harder than I should. I think mentally I'm so amped after a great race that I just want to keep going!


  1. I'll get back to you on recovering from long races as I recover from running my first marathon yesterday. Today I'm too sore and tired to think of running (or, honestly, walking much), hopefully tomorrow is better.

    Also, if my cat weren't sitting on my feet, I would've thought that you'd stolen him for that photo. Your cat looks exactly like my's a bit odd.

  2. I'm no good on advice, considering I haven't ran a lot lately. However, I thought of you today when I ran my 5 mile trail race! I am on board with you with loving these races more! :) Good luck on your marathon!

    Oh, and my cat loves to snuggle while I'm on the computer too!

  3. I'm in the same boat as Magdalena, I just ran my first marathon yesterday!! I do have a weird bump on the oustide of my foot & pain walking that just showed up today though. But my plan is to get in a Swim Tuesday, a short 2-3 mile run Thursday and 6 mile run Saturday with cross training on Sunday. Very similar to the week of my taper in reverse too.

  4. I do pretty much the same thing, but it isn't really structured. I like to go out the day after a race for a mile or two run at least and then a good stretch. It helps me recovery much faster.

  5. For recovery, I tend to just listen to my body. With your upcoming marathon, sounds like you are taking the right approach!

  6. I used to be super stuck on doing exactly what Runner's World or experienced marathoners or whatever recommended, but now I just play it by ear. There is really no way to predict how you will feel because every race is so different. Although I can say without a doubt I am taking at least 5 days off from running or any tough exercise after my 50 miler, for both mental and physical reasons. This post makes me want to bust out my bike trainer again!

  7. You seem to have it all together! I couldn't agree more about listening to your body, and obviously it is working for you :)
    Also you are adorable in these pictures! haha
    Anyway, I know I don't read often, but when I do I enjoy it.
    Stay happy and healthy :)
    <3 Haley

  8. Wow sounds great in theory but I have to admit my week after a long event has a lot more "rest" in it! Good job!

  9. i usually run a slow, easy 2 mile run the day or two days after the race. and take several days off or do light cross training (yoga, pilates, etc).

  10. Isn't is soooo frustrating and annoying to have to reverse the taper?

    For so long we are in the go go go go go mode and then we have to grind to a snail's pace it seems!

  11. The only time I've ever taken 5 days off from running is when I got horribly sick after a race and literally could not run. Barring that, 2 days is my normal rest time before running again. I'm pretty sure I'm not a model for how to do things, so probably just ignore my advice.

  12. I always listen to my body and that has served me well so far so I'm sure when I "reverse taper" I'll just see how I feel and go from there.

  13. After a race, I usually take 2-3 days off from running and then start back running short distances, whatever my body feels is best. If it works for you then keep doing it!

  14. Every race is different for me. Sometimes I'm barely sore and other times I am hobbling. I just listen to the aches and pains and when they stop screaming, then I ease back into it but the reverse taper is a smart plan for sure. You're going to crush your marathon in a few weeks. I'm sure of it!

  15. That sounds like a lovely reverse-taper.

    I write an easy week into my schedule post-race that usually includes walking or cycling the day after the race (and usually a little 'round-the-block stroll the night OF the race... laying about on the couch for hours makes me horribly stiff). But otherwise I just listen to my body for a week or two, depending on the distance, before I go back to regularly-scheduled training.

  16. I just go with what my body tells me. However, like you said, that can be a disaster, especially if you are not sore, so you may have a tendency to push it a little too much. I usually rest the first two days after and then just do whatever I want.