New Shoes, La Jolla Half Marathon, and Tapering

It has been a long time since I’ve used the word “taper” in association with my training. Over the years, through all the marathons I’ve run (35), and most of the half marathons I’ve trained for (I have no idea how many, but probably close to 50), I spent time planning the perfect taper. How far to run, how fast to run, when to begin tapering, the food to eat during the taper, etc.

In recent years, though, my training has been very haphazard. I haven’t run a marathon for about five years and I may run one or two half marathons a year. My work schedule makes it difficult to run more than three days a week (four if I’m lucky). I haven’t attempted any kind of speed work, and I’ve approached races unsure as to whether running a half marathon is a very smart thing to do. (Last year I asked my readers what they thought. For the most part, you said, “Go for it.” Gee, thanks, guys!)

How different that is from the year I ran my personal best marathon in St. George, Utah. Alan and I would wake up at 3:00 am, be out the door by 3:30, to run 10-12 miles before work. One of those runs would be a long tempo run, pushing ourselves for 6-8 miles to run fast. We rarely missed going to the track once a week, early in the morning, for mile repeats, or whatever challenging interval work we could think up. And of course the long run, 20, 22, even 25 miles in the course of our training. It paid off in 1999, when I ran 3:16 in the St. George Marathon.

St. George Marathon

So young, so strong. St. George Marathon, 1999

So this year, in planning to run the La Jolla Half Marathon, I decided that maybe some actual training would be beneficial, mainly so I wouldn’t feel like I did after last year’s race. Now, I didn’t go out and create anything like an actual training plan (that would be too smart). Instead, I tried to run an extra day per week (bringing it to four days most weeks), and to increase my mileage on my long run day. I also increased mileage on one of my mid-week runs, but because it is a work day, I never had time to run more than six miles.

My longest run, which I managed to complete in Redlands last Sunday, was 10 miles. Maybe not perfect, but it is what it is. I’ve also run eight or nine mile a few times, so I feel relatively prepared to at least complete the race without hurting myself.

Which brings me back to tapering. I ran what will probably be my last run before La Jolla this morning, five miles (with Penny). I ran nice and easy, but I did incorporate some hill running, because running La Jolla means running this:

If you can’t see those little people running up that hill, click to enlarge. There are other hills in this race, but this is the one that people write home about. So, anyway, I ran up my 1.5 mile hill this morning to finish off my training. I also did an hour of yoga after the run, and I’ll probably do so again on Friday. Other than that, the training is complete.

So, in addition to reducing the running, I will also make sure to drink lots of liquids. Because my vegan diet is full of healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. I don’t need to make any changes there. Because this is just a week long taper, I won’t feel any of that fear of de-training that long distance athletes deal with. I’ll just my body rest and recover, top off the fluids and carbs, and be good to go on Sunday morning.

One last thing to be ready for the race: New shoes! I ordered them from Roadrunner Sports about two weeks ago. They usually have such a fast turn around that I receive my order within two days, but for some reason, my shoes needed to be shipped directly from Asics and I didn’t get them until yesterday. I was beginning to panic, because the old ones were really, really old. I am happy that I got a chance to run in them this morning (so race day would not be the first time!). They are so pretty:

I tried to get Penny to pose with my shoes, but she just wanted to run:

We’ll be driving into La Jolla on Saturday morning. Alan will be announcing the half marathon this year (he’s announced the 5k for the last three years). So, please wish me a good race, and I promise I will report back.

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