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Tapering a bittersweet experience

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  March 29, 2013 07:00 AM

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100scroth.jpg Katie Schroth is one of six Boston Marathon entrants testing Polar personal training gear and blogging about it for Boston.com
With less than three weeks until race day, itís officially tapering time! At least it is for me. Tapering is a bittersweet experience. After training for 15-20 weeks, it is so sweet to finally be cutting back the mileage.

After all the interval workouts, tempo runs, and long runs, being able to finally relax a bit feels amazing. The mega-hard part of the training cycle has past, and I can breath a huge terrific sigh of relief. Ahhh.

Tapering is bitter too though. For one, the race has yet to be run. As the race draws closer, the more nervous and crazy I feel. Normally I deal with crazy via running, but in the instance of marathon preparation, specifically tapering, running is not an appropriate coping mechanism. Whatís a runner to do? I still donít have this figured out. My new coping mechanism is to pretend that I donít have race. What, the Boston Marathon is less than three weeks away? La la la la, I canít hear you.

Besides not being able to deal with my crazy nerves through my normal methods, tapering also brings extra energy, which means I can have trouble sleeping. As a result, I have to cut back on the coffee (if I want to sleep). Cutting back on the coffee when you have two small children and work is not exactly super fun. I love my cup of French vanilla coffee with cream...mmmm. Just thinking about it makes me want some!

Then there are the phantom pains brought on by tapering. Inevitably Iíll suddenly start having IT band pain or hip pain, when I havenít had any such pains throughout the training cycle. Of course, then I start questioning if Iíll even be able to complete the race. The doubts grow from there. Suddenly I feel sluggish, and the thought of running the marathon pace Iíve been training at, for 26.2 miles seems absolutely ridiculous. And who in their right mind runs marathons anyway!? 26 miles? Lunacy!

The bitter aspect of taping has yet to come. This week is all sweet. Iím enjoying the reduction in miles, the crazy hasnít taken hold, Iím still drinking some coffee (and sleeping), and I havenít had any phantom pains. Yeah, this week has been the calm before the storm. Now next week might be a whole other story, but one week at a time, right?

In other news, Iím still using the RC3 GPS, mostly for the heart rate function right now. Iíve noticed some interesting trends. For easy runs, my heart rate is almost always around 130 beats per minute. For harder interval or tempo runs, my heart rate seems to like to be around 150, which is significantly less than it was during my half marathon, where I averaged 162.

Iím curious if itís normal to have a heart rate significantly lower for interval and tempo workouts than in a race? Since I donít typically train by heart rate, I have no idea. I might try to do some research this week. Iíll let you know what I find.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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