The older I get, the more I look forward to Taper. It has been over 120 days since I began my training for the 2020 Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, and in this Fifth block of my self-designed plan, I continue with Taper, Race Days, and Recovery.
First, a quick look back
The holidays hit hard. Like, really hard. From the busy-ness, to the Seasonal Depression, from the entertaining to the travel, I got to a point this Christmas season where I feel like I just “phoned it in.” I haven’t been my usual Spirited Christmas-y self, I barely did any shopping, no Christmas Cards, and almost no planning.
This mentality showed up with my training, too. I got the runs in, but almost none of the cross training, and I always had good intentions for the afternoon walks. Those were hit or miss, sometimes I was great, other times, not so much. Even my foam rolling and stretching practices were not the efforts I usually put in. Which caused other issues.
Then add the holiday eating. Oh, the eating! I know I am not alone in this, and I do not set New Year’s Resolutions, but if I did, I would definitely be making some. So add the stress of the holidays, the higher training volume, and the poor nutritional choices, and I find myself going into taper feeling just GROSS.
That said, I do feel like I’m ready for 39.3 miles of Disney Magic. I can cover the courses just fine, and I have no concerns about my ability to finish healthy, but I also know I will need to set better goals for myself in 2020.
Looking at Block 5
Leading into the final 2 weeks before Goofy, volume decreases, frequency increases, and long runs come back down below double digits once again. Taper is not the time to be making anything up. I may feel a need to move, so I’ll go out for a walk. I may feel a bit stiff and tight, so I may do some easy yoga. Nothing for the next two weeks will be challenging or taxing.
And then we have two races: 13.1 followed the next day by 26.2. Both will be pretty easy efforts, enjoying the time at Disney like I do. Goofy for me is not about proving anything to anyone anymore, but rather enjoying time with friends and encouraging my fellow runners on what may be their first. That said, I will still be covering 39.3 miles in 2 days. The next step is recovery.
And this is what bugs me about most training plans. Post-race recovery plans are almost never included in the plan, and when they are, they are grossly understated. I am of the opinion that your training plan isn’t actually over when you cross the finish line. Yes, you can declare victory, but your training isn’t done.
Recovery — the forgotten phase
I see it so many times (and have been guilty of it myself). Runners will invest so much time and energy into a goal, cross the finish line, and immediately jump into the next goal, the next plan. More often than not, and much more often than we realize, runners will start training for the “next big thing” far too soon without giving adequate time in recovery. Doing this will often lead to mental burnout or injury…many times, both. In the case of the Goofy Challenge, a runner might need to rebuild and recover for weeks before returning to pre-taper volume. Which is why, while many runners may feel the hard work is done, I view this as the most crucial phase of the training plan.
After WDW Marathon weekend, I will be taking a couple of days to recover at the parks. Recovery doesn’t mean sitting around, but it does mean listening to your body.
I’ll be loosely following a Hal Higdon post-marathon recovery plan for several WEEKS after Marathon weekend to rebuild my miles and time back up. Time on my feet may be limited to walking only for a couple of weeks, but this may also be a good time to do some active recovery in the pool or on the bike — two disciplines I hoped to do more of during this training cycle.
Many times I advocate not running for at least a full week after a marathon, and yes, I do have “runs” on my plan in that first week. These runs are OPTIONAL, and if I do actually run, my effort will not exceed Heart Rate Zone 1. In fact, most of the runs for the next several weeks will be firmly planted under 140 bpm. The other option I’m giving myself is to convert miles to time, then spend that time elsewhere, like the pool. However, I may just be holding down the sofa like it’s my job.
I will say that training by heart rate has been amazing this time around. I feel like I have a ton more energy, that taper is easy, and that I may even come out of Goofy with a shorter recovery time than I have in previous years.
As a whole, I feel like I’m well prepared for Goofy, and that following my own training plan has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I will have one more blog on this after Goofy to see how well this training plan actually prepared me.
Check out the rest of the training plans: