Sunday, August 4, 2013

6 days to go and blog about tapering

Only 6 days left until the 2013 IAAF world championships begin. The marathon is on the 10th of August which is the first day of competition. I am currently in Berlin with the other NZ team members. It is great to be around some Kiwis again. I hope I can get some of my accent back :-) The support team here is great and have provided us with everything we need. I am going to the NZ team physio every day. I am enjoying the taper but am missing Lucas and Gabe lots. The longest time I have been away from them. However they will meet me in Moscow before the race :-)

Training since getting to Berlin has been really nice. A drop from 97% humidity to 50% is a lovely change!! Also the temperatures are lower. I was a little worried after training through the Houston heat as I was not always able to be on the pace I wanted. However since getting to Berlin running feels much easier. I did my fastest set of 1km reps here in Berlin which is a nice feeling :-) I arrive in Moscow on the 6th of August. I am excited to get to Moscow and see the marathon course. The IAAF have released the course map but it does not show the elevation. The marathon will be run on a series of loops starting and finishing in the main stadium. I am already getting nervous about lining up on the start line but I know I am ready!!! This has been my longest build-up for a marathon and my longest period of time without injury. It is an exciting time and I cant wait until August 10.

Now to talk more specifically about tapering:
Tapering is an essential part of a marathon build-up. Tapering is cutting back mileage. It is important to taper in order to allow your mind and body the opportunity to rest, recover and prepare for the marathon. Training for a marathon takes months and months of long hard training and dedication.
You don't want to mess that up by not resting enough. In the last 2-3 weeks there is not much you can do to improve your marathon performance but there is a lot you can do to decrease your performance by overtraining in these last few weeks. Below is a link to a paper published in the physical performance and fitness journal on tapering and the effects this has on performance. It is a good read and provides some good information. The most important points from this paper I have summarized below:
1) Decrease training volume in the last 2 weeks 41-60%
The study showed that the length of taper for improvement in performance should be individualized. Anywhere from 8-14 days showed the most performance gains. Anything less would not be enough to reduce fatigue and more reduction could lead to detraining.
2) Keep intensity the same when you drop volume. This is important so no detraining effect occurs and your VO2 max does not drop.
3) Eat a high carbohydrate diet (75%) 4 days before to enhance your glycogen stores.
The paper outlined 3 possible mechanisms to explain how tapering can positively affect performance
a) an increase in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max)
b) an improvement in power and strength which can influence the energy cost of exercise
c) a rise in the amount of glycogen due to tapering may increase aerobic endurance

Link to paper published in the Physical Fitness and Performance Journal:

A few guidelines I stick to when tapering:
1) Mainatain a good diet and do not try new foods. 3-4 days before the marathon my diet consists mainly of carbohydrates. Up until the day before the marathon I consume only complex carbohydrates. These kind of carbohydrates are found in whole grains, vegetables, peas, beans. These kind of carbohydrates are better for you as they provide vitamins, minerals, and fibre, however they take longer to digest which is not ideal before the marathon. The day before and the day of the marathon I eat simple carbohydrates like white bread and pasta and some fruit. I also eat a low fibre and low fat diet the day before and the day of the race.
2) Limit the amount of time spent on your feet in the final week
3) Be confident in your training and stay positive
4) Do not lift weights in the final week. You don't want to break muscle down at this stage

I hope this information on tapering is of some help. I did an interview for a New Zealand radio station which I have provided the link to below:

Happy Running everyone. I will update you on my progress when I get to Moscow.

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