Get that woman a taper, ASAP: 3 Weeks to Boston


Miles:  80

Speed:  10 x 800

Longest run:  24

My body has been giving me multiple signals that it is, in fact, time to taper and taper hard.

For the past few days I have been moving through my days more slowly than usual, so long as I am unaided by caffeine or adrenaline.  I do not want to wake up when the alarm tells me to, in fact, I want to slap it onto the ground when it so much as makes a peep.  And I have become so friendly with my foam roller than I have major separation anxiety when I have to put more than ten feet between us.

I’m all, “No!  Don’t stay behind.  I neeeed you!!”

But after MFP found it in the backseat of our car yesterday, he complained that there wasn’t enough room for our kids and the roller, so I had to part with it for just a little while. 

In the past I have been super tough about the taper.  I have blamed it for stale races and illness.  In fact, I have pretended I didn’t need it at all.

But now I am going to embrace it.  Because if I don’t I risk becoming a zombie who carries around a foam roller like a toddler does her blankie, and who, when prompted, totally flips out on electronic devices.

So you see, it will be safest for everyone if I pull back my mileage significantly.

I had a look at how I tapered for my best marathon, a 3:35 run back in May.  For that one I ran my longest run two weeks before the race and then didn’t pull back the reins at all until race week.

But even though that seemed to work for me then, I cannot deny that this training cycle has left me far more trashed and at risk for mental breakdown than that one did.

“I don’t know officer, she seemed to be fine, you know, running all the time and everything.  And the next thing I know she is having a freak-out at Best Buy and mumbling something about how she wants to rid the planet of all electronic equipment with flashing lights or beeping sounds…”

So here is the plan:

This week I plan to pull back 25% in mileage, keeping the intensity about the same.

Next week I will pull back about 40%, depending on how I feel.

And the week before the race I will run 20 or so miles.

I fully believe that if you are running no more than 40 or 50 miles per week, the taper is no big whoop.  But over 60?  I think you have to do the taper just right to benefit from all those miles.

I am sad to say that my paces are nowhere near as fast in training as they were for Long Beach.  However, I ran much more consistently and had five long runs at or over 20 miles, which is what I was severely lacking for that race. 

I really, really want to run one more 20-miler.  I will have a hard time not doing so on Friday, because I hear that having six 20-milers under one’s belt is ideal.  (I missed one the week I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon.)

But I should trust this advice:  the older you are, the more taper you need.  Period.

So onward I go to run fewer miles and recover my sanity.

Wish me luck.


  1. Kristin says

    I completely agree with you Rebecca! This is a very smart way to approach your taper for this cycle. I usually only taper for 2 weeks, but I will start cutting back this week as well. I have also become dependent on my foam roller these days! Pfitz calls for a 17 miler this week and I think that is as far as I am going to go on a nice, flat paved trail. Have a great week…you don’t need luck because you have put in the quality work and are ready for Beantown!! :)

    • Rebecca says

      Yes, I think I will run 17ish instead of 20, but I am still really nervous about those three I will miss…thanks for the comment!

  2. Jeremy says

    The taper is such a frustrating mystery. If I ever race a marathon again I’m going to err in favor of less taper rather than more. For now I’ll just see how your experimentation works out! Good luck!

    • Rebecca says

      I know. I think I learned that too much tapering is bad for me, didn’t I? Ah, well, anyway, I’m following Pfitz’s idea of a taper which most people seem to think works. It is not extreme, but it is more than I usually do. I think as long as I keep up the intensity I will be okay. Only time will tell.

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