As with any specialized activity, there are lots of words that get thrown around. Sometimes those on the outside (by choice because anyone is welcome) don’t either appreciate our vocabulary or those of us new don’t understand it. I’m the later and once was the previous:) I’m learning so much and still realize that I don’t know anything. So please take everything that I say with a grain of salt. Preferable with a Margarita! Please also remember that I am no expert and am just a novice trying to figure it all out.
Today’s word of the week
and something that I’m still figuring out is
Let’s go see what Webster thinks it means
Definition of TAPER
1 a: a slender candle(not it)
b: a long waxed wick used especially for lighting candles, lamps, pipes, or fires (not it)
b: gradual diminution of thickness, diameter, or width in an elongated object (not it)
c: a gradual decrease (Bingo – we have a winner!)
Now Google Runner’s taper and you will get a whole slew of responses and ways to do it. There are long tapers, short taper, no tapers, and everything in between. I, myself, am doing a short taper for my marathon. The reason being is my training has been very condensed.
Now you wouldn’t think tapering would be a hard thing, but it is. Every person is different. Every event is different and every situation is different. I’m still trying to balance what my body needs.
What I do know though is this week, my running is less than it has been.
Only 4, 6, 3 and 8.
Next week it is only 3, 4, 2.
Of course that week ends with
I’m not sure when I crossed the border where going for a 6 mile run is a short run, but somewhere that change happened. I now need to reign it in. The thing about running a lot of miles is that your body only begins to get into the pattern around mile 3 and then your stopping. I will work on that. Who knew that one day I would actually need to work on NOT running as opposed to getting out the door to run.
Life is funny that way!
One thing that I do know that I have to be mindful of with the diminished miles is that means that I need to step back on what I am eating because less miles also means less calories burned.
There are a million and one training plans. Most share similar ideas of how to improve. The question though is not “what plan” but “what is your goal?” Asking that question will help you narrow down your plan.
As you know, when I started running, I just ran. I started with the basic running plan that my Tri Group introduced me to. The couch to 5k. It was perfect for my goal of the time which literally was just to get my @ss off the couch to run the 5K in the Tri. It worked.
When it was all said and done, I turned into Forest Gump without the beard. I just ran and ran some more. The more I ran though, the more I realized that I needed to learn more about the “art” of running. Yes, running is simple. Just put one foot in front of the other, but there can be so much more… If you want there to be.
I will say though that if in the beginning I felt the need to do more than just run, I might not have run as far and long as I am now. I ran just to run. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a goal. I didn’t know about mile repeats, speed training or any of the other types of training. I thought if I put the miles in that was enough. You know what? For me at the time, it was enough. If I didn’t just put on my shoes and run, I might not be where am today in my training. My only thought in the beginning was just pure and simple to be able to run without feeling like I was dying.
I was talking with a friend who is just getting back I to running (yes, I mean you:). She was asking me if I was doing all these accelerated glides (not even sure what that is) and magic miles (something else to investigate). I told her no because right now I’m too late into my Hat Trick training plan to start something new. Stick with the plan. Keep my eye on the end goal. I do want to investigate over the off season, but not yet. I know that I do have much to learn about running, but I think if I knew how clueless I was when I started that I might not have started. I would have been overwhelmed. I’m glad I didn’t know any better and just ran.
My advice to anyone just starting out is to not worry about those Magic Miles yet! Don’t think about all the things that you think that you need to know to start, because the bottom line is that running really is simple. Yes, there are many complicated training exercises that you can do to improve your running. Yes, they can help you run faster. But the knowledge will come in time as will the improvements. As I said in the beginning, ask yourself one simple question (which you can share with us if you’d like):
Ask anyone who is training for an event what training plan that they are following and I bet you get a different answer every time. Anyone who is serious about their training is usually following something, even if it their own plan. With anything in life the key is being prepared. You wouldn’t book a vacation and then forget to pack. So why would you register for an event and not prepare for it either. Yes, there are many who probably do this and I have been guilty of it too. I will admit that when training for my first Half Marathon, I didn’t follow a plan. I just pulled a Forest Gump and built up my running distance. There was no special training plan. Yet still I was training. I just wasn’t training very smart.
Now that I’ve got a few things under my belt and am planning more for the future, I realize that I can’t just expect it all to fall into place. It would also be nice if I would be able to walk the day afterwards because my body will be ready. But how to train when your training for both a Sprint Tri one month and then the following month plan to pull a Hat Trick. Every athlete (and I don’t really consider myself one, but I digress) unless working with a trainer really needs to figure out what will work for them. What will fit into the schedule? What can the body do without risking injury? Most importantly for me, how to keep it fun? Most of us also have lives outside our race/training schedule. Lives that take up a lot of our time. So how to fit it all in is usually the biggest question. But you get out of things what you put into it. So if you want not just to finish and event, but to finish it with a smile you have to prepare. I think I’ve found what will work for me and help me be ready when the time is right.
I have done the Iron Girl Sprint before, so I’m not expecting any curve balls. I also just finished up the NJ State Sprint Triathlon, so I feel like I am prepared for this event. What I do not feel prepared for in any way, shape, or form is this Hat Trick. So I have decided my primary focus is going to be on this event. A Sprint Tri is not an easy event to finish, but I am more confident in my ability to do this. What I can’t imagine is running a 5K resting for an hour and then running a 10K. Then going home to sleep to come back for more pain of running a Half Marathon. So my focus right now is on my running and building up my endurance. I feel that this can and should also help me in the Iron Girl.
I have a plan this time. A plan that is working for me. A plan that someone much smarter about running than I ever could be came up with. I am following the Runner’s World Training plan. I’m sure that their running experts know what they are talking about too. I’m learning as I go that there is so much more to this running thing than cute shoes although those are important too. I’m learning about Tempo Runs, intentionally running at a 3 minutes SLOWER pace than normal on some training runs, and just knowing that I am setting myself up for a good experience. I am training smarter not just harder. The beauty of the plan that I am following is that on my rest days, I can still (if I choose) do a bike or a swim because these are non impact and will still allow myself to train for the Tri.
I will never be the fastest, but I will be the best that I can be. That is all you can ask of yourself or anyone else.