training for my first half marathon: the taper

Hey y’all! I’m popping in with a rare weekend post. I can’t believe it’s already here but tomorrow is the big day. I’m so ready to own this half marathon, yes…cold weather and all. Forecasters predict that at race start time temps will be around 29 degrees and overcast. I’ll definitely be praying since it’ll be a first for me, running in those temps. Hope you stay warm (or cool), wherever you find yourself this weekend. See you next week!

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In sports, there’s a phrase commonly called the “the taper” or “tapering”. Basically, what this means is that in the days or week leading up to a race you start reducing the amount of exercise. As with anything, there are varying opinions as to exactly how tapering should look particularly when training for a half marathon.

Like I mentioned before, I chose to follow the Novice 1 plan, which started back in early September. I had a built in “cushion” week I gave myself just in case of sickness, injury, missed runs, etc since I started the plan 13 weeks out instead of the normal 12. Thankfully, I didn’t have to dig into my cushion and instead, just decided to run the extra week (which was this past week) in an effort to stay mentally prepared for the race.

In the past with training, I’ve always taken the taper approach as more of an “easy” week. Typically, my paces would be a bit slower than race pace and I wouldn’t be as aggressive with my runs. This time around, I wanted to try something different. Even though I ran shorter distances (and thus, had a lower weekly mileage) my times were actually faster than ever. I did this on purpose. First, I wanted to test myself and see just how fast I could realistically run for a sustained pace. Second, I had to run on the treadmill this week (even though that wasn’t my original plan) so I didn’t want to get bored. Truth. Finally, I ran my last long run on Monday instead of the usual Saturday or Sunday — that threw me off a bit, so in the end I decided to just nix the 2 miler I had scheduled for Friday since I didn’t want to run 4 days back to back, before the race.

So here’s my chart showing how I trained during my taper week.

 photo week13_zps079486fa.jpg

How I Felt
Strong. Physically, I feel confident that I’m ready to tackle 13.1 miles of running. Mentally, I’m there too although that becomes more important on race day. Tomorrow!

What I Learned
Tapering doesn’t always have to mean slow or easy. I enjoyed pushing myself really hard, one last time during training. There are more things I’ve learned in the past 13 weeks, but I’ll save that for next time!

Freezing temps and 13.1 miles…here I come!

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