Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taper Madness

Tapering is like making a bonfire with green lumber. You spend the last 12 - 20 weeks building up this giant 60 foot high structure with wet logs. Taper is the time you need to sit back, rest, scale down the workouts, and let the wood dry. The result on race day should be to light that sucker on fire!

I'm ready to watch it burn.

Let's unpack that a little bit. Once you hit taper, it becomes difficult to trust that the hard work is actually done. You want to keep thinking that there is still time for hard work - there's not. The hay is in the barn. So what is really the harder part about building a bonfire? Stacking up the logs, sometimes designing something huge has got to be the hardest part. It takes a long time and a lot of muscle to build something like that. And using green or wet logs means it won't dry out and rot during the training plan.

The hard work is done
So after the logs are built up like that, the only thing left to do is fire prep. Wet logs need to dry out or they won't burn on race day. Muscles need to rest. Workouts need to be more sparse and performed under more race-like conditions.

One week from Saturday is my first open water swim marathon. 12 miles in the Swim Around Charleston. I've been setting personal monthly records for swim volume all summer long, putting in the hard work to ensure a successful race. Now is the time to trust in my training, rest as hard as possible, and let the recovery build strength that can show up on race day.

I'm also in a marathon taper, since my marathon swim is followed one week later by the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, MN where I can't wait to run with Lisa. Last Saturday was the last hard workout, a 20 mile run from my house through a loop of the Umstead 100 course and back home. I had a brief 2 mile easy run monday, tuesday night swim practice, and I'm trying to get a consistent yoga practice in this week too. There will be more swimming and running this week, but not much. Next week is going to be even less, I think the Tuesday night swim might be my only workout.

But tonight in the pool something special happened. I've been trying for weeks to swim 50 yards in 34 seconds or less. So far I've had a lot of 35 and 36 second 50's, but nothing else. Tonight I nailed a 34 clean. Then the last set of the night was a 100 yard for time, and I swam a 1:10

let that sink in for a minute. My previous PR was 1:12 and it's only the 3rd time I've ever gotten under 1:14. 1:10 is what swimmers who had college scholarships can do, not me. It's the equivalent of finally breaking a 5 minute mile in running - only something that the genetically gifted can hope to achieve. I am not genetically gifted, it was totally all of the hard work.

This is how I know I'm ready for my marathons.

The bonfire is built. I'm letting the wood dry and pouring some gasoline on it. Something was certainly on fire tonight in the pool.

Only 10 more days until I burn that motherfucker to the ground.



Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Holy cannasta, way to go on swimming 50 yards in 34 seconds! That is so crazy impressive! I'm in awe!

I hope that your 12 mile swim goes well! That is more daunting to me than a marathon honestly!!

I'm really excited to show you around the Twin Cities and run the marathon with you! I really hope we get good race weather. I would love to break 4 hours in my home city but we'll see what happens on race day!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love this analogy! I have a hard time not wanting to light the fire early, that's for sure! But then the fire doesn't burn as bright, right?

Good luck with your swim! That seems so far to me! I swam maybe 1/4 mile (or less...it seemed like forever) in a lake near my parent's house this summer and I was worn out! Have fun with Lisa! You guys are going to kick butt!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

What a great description of taper! :-) Good Luck!

Abby said...

I go bat crap crazy during taper.
Eat everything, sleep all the time, get sick.
Hope you have a much better taper.