Slowdown to Speedup

Local endurance runner, physical therapist, and mom, Lindsey Hagen, discusses the best way to train and recovery for your fall race scheduled. When it comes to easing up on miles before and after races, it is a must. This time of year is pretty ideal for many runners here in Central Oregon, we want to make sure you are prepared and healthy to run and complete everything you have signed up for!

Fall race season is here and it is time to consider your taper (reducing the volume of your weekly training mileage during the final two to four weeks leading up to the scheduled run/race) to race day and your post-race recovery.

Depending on the length of race you are participating in, and your experience level, the amount of taper/recovery will vary. For those runners that are skeptical and worried about loosing fitness by tapering, bottom line is YOU WON’T. Your fitness base at two weeks out from race day is great; it will not suffer if you cut your miles down. Research has shown that performance will improve by 5-15% by tapering miles pre-race. That could be the difference in a huge PR (personal record) Boston qualifying time, or any other goal(s) you have for your race and season. Runners at elite levels taper for key races and, just as importantly, recover appropriately afterward.

Here is an example, specific to a marathon (26.2 miles), of how this can play out in your training plan: A reasonable taper for a semi-experienced runner training for a full marathon would be to cut mileage by 20-30% starting two weeks out and then 50-75% the week of the race.

Breakdown: If you had weekly mileage around 60 miles, you should cut to 42-48 miles 2 weeks out, and 15-30 miles race week. More novice marathoners might consider a three week taper. Shorter races, 5k/10k-Half marathon likely will not need nearly as long of a taper, one week to 10 days depending on the runner. The intensity of the workouts should be relatively unchanged. If you were doing 6-8 mile tempo runs, you would just cut to 3-4 miles but maintain the same pace. Long runs should drop distance significantly in those weeks. Tapering will allow you feel fresh on the start line and mentally pumped for an excellent race!!

Again, recovery varies by experience and distance of the race. Runners at the top of their game are taking full rest weeks after races. Rest is important to diminish risk for injury and prevent burnout.

You trained hard, raced harder, and now focus on letting your body recover. Full days off are important. You can walk or spin on a bike without resistance for a more active recovery to reduce lactic acid build up post-race. An entire week without running is standard. Many elites will run the second week, but will not do any workouts (hard running with pace) until two weeks post-race. Take this time to enjoy family and friends that have been patient and encouraging during your training block, indulge a little, and then get back on the road/trails once your mind and body feel willing and able.

For more information on race preparation and training, or to check in on any aches and pains pre registration, give us a call and set up some time to meet with Lindsey at our North clinic, 541.323.5864.