I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Taper or Not?

This question popped a couple/few times in comments last week. Do I plan on tapering for Chuckanut, is it a training run or a race for me?
Let me backtrack a bit. On a second year of my running I was training for a marathon, and signed up for every half-marathon I could find within a driving distance (what was a lot in NYC area) to run it as either as training or effort runs. Then same happened to marathons when I turned to running ultras. Basically as move up a notch in “how long” the goal race is, I realize how bad I am at shorter one. I have not a single fast-twitch muscle in my body. I also have no lung capacity. Thus racing shorter distances, although certainly should be a personal challenge, had mentally become divided into “training runs” (a.k.a. Hagg lake) and effort run – what I’d like to do at Chuckanut. I guess the way I named it is to calm myself down before the day of the race. I mean, somehow racing for me means “die or run PR” type of thing. Since I can’t do it, but I do get really hard on myself, I picked a different word. In reality it means I want to run well at my level of readiness for the moment, but not use taper or recovery. How is that? Oh, and the division usually goes also by how long I will travel to a race. The further it is, the better I try to run to satisfy the finances/time spent.

That been said, I usually have a modified taper in weeks before “effort runs” and no taper at all before “training runs”. That was why last weekend I did 15 miles as a long run (and not something in over 20 category). I also tend to take an extra day off (or cut one double off) the week of the race. So here how it is going for me now.

Monday I ran 6 morning miles with Charlie (back to roads with this stupid time shift!) and 4 at night with a full body weight lifting session (I included legs even though don’t do much of it on Mondays because of upcoming Tuesday track workout).
Tuesday was same 6, same Charlie in pre-down hour, and 7 more at the track with Red Lizards. I read on their website they would do 11x600m repeats with 20 sec on walka-jog in place (or rather in small circle). My plan (from Scott) called for 6x3min with 1 min recovery. I figured I’ll see how it goes. Coach Rick had written that that 600m repeats are basically a 4M tempo run, thus done at tempo pace. He has this SMLTE paces set up as in “short intervals, medium, long, tempo, easy”. All of them are based on 5k, 10k and so on pace (as in “10 sec faster than that”, “5 sec slower than that”…you know how it is). I have no idea of my pace in those distances. I mean, last time I raced a 5k, it was a cross-country one 4 days after WS100 4 years ago. So I asked Rick on the warm-up if I run these days 600m in 2:47, what it means for me tonight (and please, don’t tell me in lap pace either, I don’t look at my watch unless I hit the stop button at the end, and I don’t even know how to retrieve times later, so I memorize them!). He said 15 sec slower, what makes it 3:00 to 3:05. Below are my splits:
#1 – 2:50 (uh-oh, slow down!)
#2 – 2:57 (better)
#3 – 2:56 (c’mon!)
#4 – 2:55 (no good, but feels wonderful)
#5 – 2:55 (hey, we can talk during these intervals, no burning lungs!)
#6 – 2:55 (I think it’s cruise control)
#7 – 2:54 (yep)
#8 – 2:53 (all I do is think “leg turn-over”, and it’s working?)
#9 – 2:50 (is it because I planned only on 10?)
#10 – 2:50 (10 should be it, I suddenly feel the pain in my left hip crease at the injury)
#11 – 2:51 (I can’t leave Kelly all by herself out there, when everybody else is done!)
None of them felt out of the limit. It was fun and EVRYBODY talked and said many encouragements on the way passing each other. I am feeling more comfortable with folks and know at least half of their names now. I just have to leave right after…
Wednesday – slept in and missed the double of the day exactly because of that hip pain coming back again. I think it was a good call, and hopefully by tonight I can jog short on treadmill at the gym after a light weight routine.
Thursday and Friday should be most likely shorter than normal too, definitely not wise to do 9M on Friday before the race.

I am driving to Bellingham after work on Friday, where Michelle and Eric graciously invited me to stay over at Michelle’s parents’ house. Should be fun good conversation night! I wanted this weekend to be a family trip and take boys and Oleg (who is back) to our friends in Kirkland, but I keep forgetting we have a dog now, our car is not equipped to travel with him, he is a puppy and the friends have a baby. So I was really thankful to the guys for letting me know they have an extra sleeping spot!!

There will be so many friends to see at Chuck, I am psyched for that, totally!!! All is good. I believe my training is developing nicely, and this 50k fits really well into the schedule as a check-in on progress. I just hope I don’t mess up with eating/drinking cycle on the run (or before, as a matter of fact, because there are not too many bushes there), and my hip and shins hold within threshold limits. And please, no rain, I had enough at the Hagg!!


mtnrunR said...

you don't need no stinking taper. this is just a 50k. taper in june

Steve said...

I thought tapering was when I faded at the end of my runs. I agree with your balance of prioities. Here are my current goals (in order): run for life and stay healthy, pace Eric at Western, run Chuckanut, run anything else with friends that sound fun and keeps me motivated and improving. See ya Friday.

meredith said...

Best of luck at the 50K! I always struggle with the idea of "taper." I love to run too much!

Backofpack said...

I have put Eric in charge of directions. He'll be emailing you.

Should be a fun weekend! See you soon.

Meghan said...


Good luck this weekend! I'm hoping for good weather for you!

Kendra Borgmann said...

Hee hee, I liked "no stinkin' taper" comment! Wait a minute, did my eyes deceive me? You HELD BACK this weekend? >:) As for fast twitch muscles, the only times my legs twitch fast is in my sleep apparently (it's called RLS!). God, I wish I were high up enough in miles, time, anything, to taper. The only thing I could possibly taper right now is my donut intake. :) See you soon, my dear.

Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of Bellingham. Have a great time.

Sarah said...

Good luck and have fun!

Bob Gentile said...

Have a great event Olga & hope U get good weather!!

that was a good comment...
mtnrunR said...you don't need no stinking taper. this is just a 50k. taper in june.
just a 50k --lol

Eudemus said...

Nice job on the the speedwork. Your muscles may be "twitching" faster than you think :-).

As for tapering, I am dealing with the same issue preparing to hit 3 races each three weeks apart leading up to my first 100K. While I am not nearly as competitive as you, I do still have a hard time not racing in a race. I am basically going to focus on keeping my weekly mileage in the 60 mile range including my races which will force me to do mini-tapers for my 50K and 50-milers and take the full week off before the 100K.

I also like the "it's only a 50K" comment. I think for you that may work. Have a great race!

Journey to a Centum said...


Regarding cougar attacks. Remember that while you may be running alone during an endurance race you have a lot of runners on the course. I think with the level of activity during an event like an ultra the big cats tend to make themselves scarce. The woman who was killed running on the WS trail near Auburn CA a few years ago was on her own on a very quiet day. Cougars have been know to chase away bears when protecting thier cubs but they don't try to drag them down for a meal. I'm guessing you would fight like a bear if a cougar ever attacked you. Remember: They don't like to be hurt so hit it, scratch it's eyes, bash it's ears, and knee it in the gut, heck bite back if you can.

runningkate said...

I'm glad to read I'm not the only one who just can't sprint. Longer runs are my friend, I'm great at maintaining a long slow pace... good luck with the longer races, I hope to make it that far some day!

Julie B said...

Have a fun time, Olga, not to mention a nice DRY time!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Tapers are always good. Have a good time, this weekend.

TryAthlete said...

Have fun and enjoy the run!

GotLegs! said...

I'm with Tom and Kendra ... taper in June! See you in the morning.


Phil said...

I over tappered in my last marathon and lost my edge. I think if you're out running 100 miles a week at sub 7:00/mi pace it makes since to back off over 3 week, but with your strength I don't see it doing you much good.

Good luck.

robtherunner said...

I hope all went well and I can't wait to hear about the race. I heard a bit from Tony P. this morning.

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