Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 12 – Taper Week

This week I’m finishing up my taper week for the LA marathon. I’ve never done a short taper like this before, so I’m curious to see what the results will be on Sunday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Along with Andrew Read and Narisa Wild, Julie Warren will be sharing her training experiences for upcoming endurance challenges. Follow Julie as she prepares for her next adventure – the Great Wall of China Marathon! Julie’s journals will be posted on Saturdays.

Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 12 – Taper Week

Well, I’m finally wrapping up my week of tapering for the L.A. Marathon. I’m really looking forward to running the race with my sister, seeing my fantastic Los Angeles friends, and ultimately seeing how this CrossFit Endurance programming method is going to pay off when I cross the finish line at the Santa Monica Pier. That is, if taper week doesn’t get the best of me first.

This tapering period has surprised me in many ways. After years of following the more conventional long, slow distance training method, I’m used to a three-week-plus taper for a marathon. In fact, when training for my first marathon in 2006, I tapered for four weeks and since I had very little clue what I was doing, I basically went from a 20-mile long run to hardly running much at all over the following four weeks. Not so much a taper, as much as cease and desist. Clearly, I did not understand how to appropriately taper, and it resulted in a less than stellar first marathon experience.

What I “should” have been doing was decreasing my weekly mileage by 10-20% each week and then decreasing intensity in the week or two prior to the race. What’s great, in concept, about the CrossFit Endurance taper is that since your body isn’t broken and destroyed from 80-100 mile weeks, so you really only need about a week and half to taper. The taper is very specific and overall less intense than a typical CrossFit Endurance training week. I figured this was going to be the easy part.

I could not have been more wrong. This week has been a real struggle, but not in a physical way. All workouts during a CFE taper are performed for a shorter duration and at about 70% intensity. For someone who really loves to feel maxed out after a workout, 70% intensity is incredibly frustrating. I felt really good all week, so any time I went for a run or stepped into the CrossFit gym, I wanted to go 110%. Reigning myself in to maintain a 70% effort was exceptionally difficult. In fact, all week I’ve felt like I could go run a marathon at any particular moment. At some points, I felt like if I didn’t go for a long hard run at the very moment, I just might jump out of my skin.

It was really difficult to follow the taper to the letter, but I managed to do so. Mostly I distracted myself with things I’ve not paid attention to in a while. I picked up the guitar again, while staring longingly at my running shoes sitting patiently in the corner. I took the dogs for more frequent and longer walks, while resisting the urge to turn the experience into a jog, or intervals, or anything else related to running. Mostly, I just tried to remind myself that if I feel this great the week prior to the race, I’m theoretically where I need to be to lay down a decent 26.2-mile race. There’s no sense getting a wild hair a few days prior to the race and ruining my taper. Still, all I’ve wanted to do all week is go for a good, long, hard run.

So on Sunday, me and a few thousand of my closest friends will take to the streets of L.A. I will finally know definitively how my training has progressed, and what changes I need to make prior to the Great Wall marathon in just two months. Thankfully, taper week will be over and I can just lace up my shoes, toe the line with my sister, and enjoy the experience of running through Los Angeles and finally getting in a good, long, hard run. I’ll report back next week with how it all went down!

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