Thursday, April 18, 2013

Duct Tape and Super Glue

The other day I found myself fixing two things back to back, one with duct tape and the next with super glue. It’s amazing how many jobs those two things can handle. As my wife can attest, I’m not extremely handy around the house. I’m not Bob Vila. I can’t take apart a furnace and put it back together again, and no, I probably can’t fix that leaky faucet. But… if the job calls for duct tape or super glue, I’m your guy!

I think I could use a bit of both on myself lately. On a run this week my calf, hip, foot, knee, and stomach all expressed various forms of anger towards me. On top of the aches and pains, I got sick last week, which zapped my energy for a while (speaking of leaky faucets, my nose definitely felt like one for a couple days). I popped those Zicam lozenge things for a few days, and they did seem to reduce the duration of my cold. Maybe just a placebo effect, but I’ll take it.

It’s normal to feel a bit run down as taper time approaches before a big race. With the clock ticking towards race day, I’ve spent the last several weeks cramming in a lot of volume, reminiscent of scrambling to finish the last few problems on a test before the teacher yells out “pencils down!!” Within 2-3 weeks of race day, the “hay should be in the barn” as they say. The work you put in today doesn’t benefit you tomorrow… improved fitness manifests itself a couple weeks later. So, since you can’t really gain additional fitness, the best thing to do before a big race is to stay sharp with shorter workouts, but with a focus on resting up.

 the hay should be in the barn

This week is only a mild descent from the volume I’ve been putting in, and I’ll get one last long run in of 8-10 miles tonight. With this being an “A” ( high priority) race for me, I’m getting in a longer taper. Usually you’re only doing that 2x or so a season. Following St. George I’ll let myself recover for a week or so, then ramp things back up until my next (and last) long taper period in late summer.

A common misperception is that you don’t try as hard for your lower priority “B” or “C” races. However, the main difference is really the amount of taper you get beforehand. An A race warrants a full 2-3 week taper, whereas a B race gets a shorter taper, maybe a few days. You’re usually training right through a C race, as a means of being more fit for a higher priority race down the road.

It’s fun getting to the taper period, but it also feels a little strange as you wind down when your instincts are to keep pushing. You also wonder if you’ve done enough. I’ve put in some good work in the pool, especially since January, and I’ve consistently pushed myself on the bike. Running is my strength, but right now I’d say it’s also my biggest wild card. Being early in the season, I really haven’t done a lot of hard tempo runs, focusing instead on building a foundation and staying injury free.

Hopefully it will be enough for a good race.

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