Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The taper begins

Long distance athletes, whether cyclists, runners, swimmers, or triathletes, all share a special moment in their training when the rigors of mind-numbing distances, loose joints, sore muscles, and aching bodies have taken their toll and the athlete is ready to quit the training full stop. The taper. The theory behind the taper is simple - after pummeling your body with long runs and vigorous interval sessions for weeks on end, you slow your training significantly and let your body heal and rebuild such that, if you time it right, on the day of your event, you will be at the zenith of a recovery from ten to twelve weeks of physical hardship, the strongest your body can be.

Andrea and I did our final long run yesterday in preparation for Crow Pass and now our three week taper begins. We ran along the Anchorage hillside, linking together some classic trail runs (Homestead Hill, the Middle Fork, Williwaw Lake, Spencer Loop) for a 20-plus mile, 4:20 run. At the end, we felt better than we did at the end of some of the two hour runs we did earlier in the season - we know our bodies are getting better.

And now the relaxation starts. Granted, next weekend's combined running total is almost 20 miles but that's over two days and just feels easier than this weekend's long haul. Come race day, all things will go to parity and we will see where we stand at the end of all these training miles.


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