Category Archives: Taper

Murphy’s Law & Stress Fractures

I have a secret…I’ve been denying yet hinting at this for a bit, hoping things would turn around but they haven’t and now I’m left with a realization: my right foot is screwed. I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to develop a stress fracture, in the top of my right foot.  It’s sore to the touch, and behaves pretty much like the one I had last year, unfortunately there’s no way to tell for sure without an X-ray.  Even if it’s not fractured the treatment is pretty much the same: Rest, Ice, Time off, Wait. To say I’m pissed off would be an understatement, but I’m trying to keep my outlook forward facing and productive instead of sad and pitiful.

So where do I go from here? As I’ve said previously, the marathon is in 2 weeks so I can start tapering now with little effect, but it’s still more aggressive than what I hoped to be doing this time of year. Tapering doesn’t simply mean “no running”, it should be a gradual decrease in effort and mileage leaving you primed for race day, so what’s a crippled runner to do? Answer: Cross train like it’s your job!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pacing/training my neighbours in for a half marathon in the fall, and last night I had to send them on their merry way without me. I was planning on riding my bike alongside them but they left too late so I ditched them and headed to the local pool for some water running. “What’s water running?” one might ask; it’s running with a floatation belt in the deep end of the pool.  It’s ridiculously monotonous and you occasionally want to gouge your eyes out with a fork just for entertainment but in terms of maintaining a training base it works like a charm. By taking all the impact out of running, and the added resistance of the water you can still work your legs/core while rehabbing an injury. So the pool will be my home for the next two weeks.

I’m 95% sure that my foot won’t be fully healed by race day, but here’s hoping that something good comes my way… hey, if I crash and burn at the very least there will be an interesting blog post to read 😉

Stay healthy kids

ATB Taper

(sniff) Ahhh…can you smell it?  Taper is in the air.  The rattled nerves, the continual low-grade feeling of nausea, the irritability, the confusion, and who could forget the uneasy sleeps that precede a big race.

For those of you who may not be runners/racers, tapering is the process where athletes start reducing their training before race day.  There is no exact science to it as individual variability makes this process very much a “trial by fire” situation.  GENERALLY…taper (for longer races) starts 2-3 weeks before race day, and involves the reduction or removal of harder workouts in favour of rest and “easy” run, all in the hopes of being in peak physical condition on race day.  In reality, the average athlete nearly has a mental breakdown, and produces withdrawal symptoms that parallel alcoholics who’ve dropped the bottle.

In the past I have usually done something stupid before taper starts and spent most of my taper period clawing desperately trying to “fix” things before the inevitable crash on race day.  Bone bruises, broken toes, and ITB flare-ups have all made an appearance in the weeks leading up to a goal, but this year Murphy’s Law delivered a classic, Good-Olde-Fashioned – Illness!

Yes, the week in which I was supposed to be peaking my mileage and intensity was spent almost entirely on the couch with a fluctuating fever and head/chest congestion.  Every workout I skipped, I assured my self that tomorrow would be better and this was for the best, but after a full week where I managed only one run I was left felling deflated and significantly under-prepared.  Last week, on my vacation I managed to jump back into the mileage I was supposed to be putting in but those key workouts I missed were gone forever;  speedwork, race-paced long run, mid-week medium long run, gone.  Damn…

But there is no use in dwelling on the past!  NO, we have the future to cower in fear from!  In all seriousness, I’m not that scared about race day.  Unless something really unexpected happens I should be able to finish the ATB 30km in a reasonable time, and in reasonable shape…if not, well that just makes for interesting stories for you guys!  The major thing I’m having doubts about is my stretch goal (I’ll be posting my goals up here Friday), I worked really hard this year to train for this race, and REALLY wanted to do well but right now I’m having doubts as to whether my stretch goal is too ambitious or juuuuuuust within reach.  Guess we’ll find out Sunday…

Thanks for reading kids, and remember: When the voices in your head tell you burn things, it’s probably a bad idea to listen to them…

Pre-Race Nerves

As per usual in times of taper, my mind has been bouncing all over the place trying to maintain my everyday life but also ensure everything is ready for Sunday’s race.

  • There are items which are well in hand; accommodations, travel, tentative schedule, phone number’s of the people I’m staying with,
  • Others that are continually being obsessed over; pouring over googlemaps to get a general familiarity with the race area, memorizing the course map and elevation profile, checking the weather
  • And those yet to be started; packing gear, charging batteries, trimming toenails (VERY IMPORTANT), planning meals, loading songs onto my mp3 player (playlist post coming tomorrow), making a race plan…errr….wait…what?

Yes, I still haven’t decided how to run this race.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m scared of failing but I haven’t completely decided what pace to maintain, what or where to eat on the move, whether I should use Gatorade periodically or just stick to water, etc.etc.etc.  So, excuse me while a work some of this out right now.


My marathon PB is 3:53:xx which I’d love to beat, but to set this as my A level goal seems a bit underwhelming.  I think I need to push myself a little harder despite the risk to my fragile ego.  With that in mind, here are my tentative goals for Sunday’s race:

A – 3:45:00 – Should all the stars align, weather co-operate, my stomach stay intact, and my lower body co-operate…this is doable.

B – Sub 3:53 – I’d love to beat my PB…into the ground

C – Sub 4hrs – This was my A goal last year, with my B being “just finish”, and C being don’t pass out and fall on my face.  I managed to hit B last year, but it wasn’t pretty.

D – Finish Looking Good

E – (Stolen from Claire over at WillRunForBeer) Not poop myself, always an important consideration 😉

Uggggg….just writing that list has my stomach turning.  I can run 5:20/km for a long time, but can I hold it for 42.2km?  At the very least this pace will allow me some space to fade if I need to.  If I can hold 5:20/km to 30km, then fade to 5:45/km I can still cruise in around 3:50:xx overall.  I could live with that my biggest concern is going out too fast and blowing up like last year, but I guess you have to fight to meet those big goals…hopefully I won’t have to fight just to meet goal E…(shudder)…

I’m not quite dead yet.

So uh…how’s it going? Not too bad over here, just…you know…busy with work/family etc. etc.

Let’s see what happened since we last (virtually) spoke:

• The long run I completed two weeks ago was a night and day difference from the last one I posted about. Other than completely bonking late in the run, my body felt great, everything was working together and running smoooooth. The reason I’m not too worried about the bonk? Considering I had played 3 games in a charity ice hockey tournament the day before, I was actually quite impressed with how long my energy level/hydration lasted. If I had brought more water and had some carb reserves left I might have cruised in nicely. Regardless I was pretty happy with it.
• Since that run however my other runs have been sporadic. When I was able to run, it was raining. When I was busy, it was nice out. I went to a conference for work which ate up a few days, plus the additional back log that being away from the office creates meant I didn’t have as much time to try and squeeze in a lunch run or blog about my lack of training. Essentially, my time management has been crap lately
• Last weekend’s long run didn’t happen. Period
• And finally I’m officially into taper. I’m trying not to cop out and claim my reduced mileage as extended taper, but it’d be pretty easy to fall into. Regardless, I’m here and race day is 8 days away.

My apologies for the short post but it’s the Friday of a long weekend here, and I need to leave work early to….errr…just to leave early. It’s sunny outside (first day in 7!!!) and I need to get out and enjoy it!

Later kids!

Back in the Great White North

Bob & Doug

Holy crap, what happened!?  I left nearly a week and a half ago, to bask in the sandy warmth of Myrtle Beach, only to return to a winter apocalypse.  I think I’ve worked off all that holiday weight I had accumulated simply by shoveling out my driveway over the past few days.

Anyway, now that I’m back I’ve been trying to effectively taper for this Sunday’s Around the Bay 30km.  Obviously, despite Brent’s best efforts before I left,  our long run on the hilly section of the ATB course didn’t kill me.   I managed to avoid the tiger trap, landmines, offset leghold trap, Pigmy warriors hidden in the bushes with poison blow darts, and all he had left to depend on was repeatedly charging up hills in the hopes that my heart would explode.  If it wasn’t for all that coffee I chugged before our run, he would have succeeded too.

The week after that was spent accumulating mileage, in the vain hope that I could miraculously establish some baseline fitness.  A couple of sweet barefoot beach runs, a night time recovery run, and a 20km long run later and I was heading home to crank out another 20km.  I’m not too worried about finishing the Around the Bay, however I’d REALLY appreciate not embarrassing myself.

MT101RXIn other vacation related news I picked up a pair of NB MT101 which has pretty much sealed my fate for doing some trail and Ultra races this summer/fall…it also helped that I found out that the Chicago marathon sold out and I don’t have to consider doing it anymore.  Regardless, I’m hoping to have some fun tromping through the woods this summer.  I’ll get more into this in the near future.

In closing here are some crappy cellphone pics of my barefoot run on the beach:


Soooo Tired….

I tried to squeeze my taper-LSD into ridiculously busy weekend schedule last weekend.  It should’ve been easy considering it was supposed to be much less distance than my regular LSDs, but I was still going to have to get up at 6am (which isn’t a big deal for some of you, but a morning person I am not) which made it a bit of a PITA.  I got my gear out the night before, and even went to bed early to make the next morning as smooth as possible.  Everything was perfect, everything was planned and ready to go…that was until my youngest child decided that 10:30pm -2:30am was the perfect time to get up and party. When the alarm went off the next morning, it wasn’t “snoozed”, it was quickly turned “off”.

It’s been almost a week since I ran last, not by design mind you but life just has a way of changing your best laid plans whenever it feels like it. Whether kids, family commitments, or opportunely placed bouts of rain it’ll find a way to show you who’s boss. Regardless, I brought my gear to work yesterday, and snuck out for an easy 5km on the Bruce Trail just to shake the cobwebs off. I took it easy in consideration of my taper, and really kept my eyes open on those damp/slippery rock outcroppings and tree roots. The run felt great, and it looks like I beat another bout of rain so it was timely as well.

On top of my lack of ability to run as of late, my busy schedule and continual late nights are leaving me constantly tired.  “Go to bed earlier” seems to be the easiest solution, however every time I try to do that, something ends up throwing a wrench in it for me.  Last night I tried to go to bed an hour early only to find myself laying there wide awake for 45 minutes, then just as I was starting to fade away my wife comes to bed ranting about how she left her wallet at the voting station this afternoon (I found it for her this morning), then to top it off the baby started crying at 3:45…and 4:30, and pretty much from 4:45 to 5:30.  I crawled back in to bed around 5:40 knowing full well that 6:00 was coming far too quickly.

So what’s the point of this post….nothing really, more of a woe-is-me rant than a philosophical breakthrough.

Hope you all are faring better.

Getting Sick and Tapering

It never fails.  3 weeks out from a race, and I end up getting a cold.  Maybe it’s the mental stress, maybe it’s the physical fatigue, maybe it’s my generally crappy sleep habits, or maybe it’s a combination of all 3…all I know is that I’ve been feeling them all, and now I have a barking cough and phlegm oozing from all the usual phlegmy areas.

At the very least it seems to be a pretty common trend amongst athletes, and in my sports circle, runners specifically.  I’m sure the seasonal change in the weather, and flu season beginning don’t help, however a handful of online running friends at (all training for the same November marathon as I am) have reported suffering from colds as well.  Perhaps this is part of why tapering is so important?  It certainly can’t hurt…or can it?

The question I’ve been dealing with as of late is how long should one taper?  There are a significant number of training plans out there that have a 2 week taper, though there variations.

At the beginning of this calendar year I had a slight tear in my upper calf muscle 3 weeks before a 30km race I had been training heavily for.  My therapist advised rest, and a calf sleeve, but assured me that I would be able to race.  Relieved, albeit disappointed I asked him how this would affect my conditioning; he told me that 3 weeks off/light exercise shouldn’t cause me to lose my base despite my worst fears.  Turns out, he was right.  Not only did I run without pain, I did pretty well too.

Since that time, I’ve done a lot of online research and found that tapering seems to be as clear as mud.  How long should one taper?  Should tapering have a steady reduction in mileage or a sudden stop?  How much mileage during taper is acceptable? Or too much?  My current training plan maintains the weekday mileage, and has a significant reduction in the long runs on weekends, is this enough taper?

I guess when I get to the root of this issue, the question really is:  At what point will you benefit more from resting and less from training?  I’ve heard the adage “the work you put in today is the benefit you see 2 weeks from now”, this fits the 2 week taper plan, however, is it truth or hearsay?

So… What do you think?