Taper report TNF Bear Mountain 2013

Oh wait, you’re supposed to down-train for an endurance race right?? You see, the problem for me when it comes to running is that I perform best when I feel fit, and I feel fittest when I feel tired… the more tired I am the more fit I feel. Of course this can sometimes lead to me feeling like super-man and running a training run like a super-old-man; which is probably why I need to taper. Also, something about glycogen, I think I read that somewhere. In a book. With pages. I’m not sure that I’ve ever gotten the taper thing exactly right… I’ve only done it for a few times… and one of those was for a race that didn’t even happen… I recall bitching about it’s cancellation with a whine of “BUT I TAPERED FOR THIS” but I’m pretty sure that I thought that replacing running time with beer drinking time constituted a taper… I’m not wholly convinced that this is true (but not wholly convinced that it’s not true).

You see, in addition to the very obvious correlation of my perceived fitness to my weekly mileage, a lot of other things are wrapped up in it.. Like my ability to handle stresses, an embarrassingly large part of my self-esteem, and my willpower overall. Since I’m obviously rambling, let me show you some charts to better elaborate my point.

First, here’s my actual Taper:

Here’s how that seems to work with my overall fitness:
Now, I can’t just sit around, and pretend to go to the gym, I obviously have other things to do, like prepare for a recital that I foolishly scheduled less than 24 hours before a 50 mile race…. Oh, and apparently I need to blog.

Running is obviously a big time and energy consumer, so obviously that time has to be spent on something, here’s a rough outline of how I’ve  been spending those extra hours.
The hardest part of the taper is that since I’m not tired, I can actually see how fit I am, but I’m not allowed to use any of this until Saturday.. This is like taking a fat kid, and putting him in a candy store with a hundred dollar bill, and saying you can’t buy anything…

 Tomorrow I plan to go out and run, because I do that every day, I’ll probably run for a half an hour… which is really the running equivalent of having “just one beer” it sounds good on paper, but in actuality it’s incredibly unsatisfying. Maybe I’ll do it barefoot, so I can pretend that it’s having some sort of positive effect on my biomechanics, but most likely I’ll run up a hill. With rocks on it. Then I’ll go and practice for hours on end, because I need to do that. 

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Summary April 22-28

Monday April 22, 15 Miles 4440′ 1h57m Easy run on the power lines. The 2 hour run seems to be feeling really regular as of late, which is really encouraging. In fact, looking over the past several weeks it seems that most of my runs have been really consistent on the stopwatch, in spite of some pretty wide variations in energy levels and outlook.

Tuesday April 23, 1 Mile 8m Oh yea, about that consistency thing… apparently a nero is part of that deal. Frankly the whole really long, slow spring has been draining on me, so whenever the weather is cold/gross I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to get out for a run. My legs felt fine, but my head just wasn’t with me.

Wed, April 24, AM, 15 Miles 4440′ 1h57m Feeling really normal on the trails, and basically just trying to keep up my fitness levels without doing anything stupid like getting myself hurt. Been cranking around in a really busted up old pair of MT110’s, whose rock plate and mid-sole have seen way better days… which I think is helping inform my footing on technical descents, as well as making sure I stay light on my feet.
PM 2 Miles, 15m Easy road-jog to shake the legs out… feeling a little stiff this time around, and relatively exhausted after a long day at class.

Thurs April 25, 17 Miles, 2160′ 2h21m  Pretty relaxed road run on the broken-shin loop, albeit really low-energy. I positive split pretty heavily over the course of the run, which is probably due to a lot of latent fatigue in my legs, and a complete and utter lack of road mileage in recent weeks.

Fri April 26, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h18m  Easy Power Line run, finally warm enough to don nothing more than shorts and a singlet.

Sat April 27, 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h Easy run on the power lines again…. probably the last “real” run before the TNF race next weekend. Finally warm out, which was wonderful, according to the sunburn on my shoulders. The heat also gave me one last chance to dehydrate myself before the race, and seeing as I only carried 20oz with me, and wasn’t totally spent by the end, I’d say I’ve done pretty well as far as training myself into becoming a camel this year.

Sun April 28, 5 Miles 1480′ 35m I figure that if I’m going to run less, I ought to run a little quicker, to you know, stay sharp or something
PM 1 Mile 9M Barefootin’

Totals: 82 Miles, 19,920′

I decided to lay off a little bit this week, realizing that I probably wasn’t going to be able to reap any real training gains from overdoing things this close to a race, but in actuality I would probably just end up making myself tired out. With the exception of the fundamental day off in the middle of the week, It was a reasonably good training week, and had I not thought that I should begin to lower my mileage today, I could have easily kept running for another 15 or 20 miles as things were really feeling solid. From here on out, it’s really just about maintaining confidence through my taper (and making sure I can be tired enough to sleep). I’m really happy with how the past 6 or so weeks have stacked up, an frankly I’m not sure I’ve ever been this solid on the hills and more technical terrain, which will hopefully carry through on race day.

Summary April 8-21

Monday April 8, 3.1 Miles, :22 Quick little road run, super-pressed for time, and a little banged up from Sunday’s 25 miler, things felt smooth overall, and given more free time I’d probably have run 10 or so (slowly)

Tues April 9, AM, 7 Miles, 940′ 46:30 Back to normal form very quickly, legs are recovering smoothly.
PM 4 Miles, :28 Light roads

Wed April 10, AM 5 Miles 1480′ 39:30 Power Line trails
PM 5 Miles, :40 Dreadmill session. I’m pretty sure it was cold and raining, or something to that effect, otherwise I can’t see why I would have hit the suffer-machine (usually my log-book notes if I did an incline workout on the ‘mill)

Thurs April 11 AM, 13 Miles, 2960′ 1:30 Powerlines with a road 5k tacked on the end.
PM 10 Miles, 1440′ 1:18 Double Broken-Shin road loop, hard kick at the end with Bob and Dave.

Fri April 12, 1 Mile :08 Felt incredibly low all day, like couldn’t really bring myself to do much other than watch reruns on netflix and generally be a sloth. My legs felt great when I finally did go out and run, but my head just simply wasn’t willing to subject itself to a respectable distance.

Sat April 13, 25ish Miles, 4:30 7000′ Delaware Water Gap with Jayson. TH>Tammany>Sunfish Pond> Catfish Fire Tower> Dunfield Creek Parking lot via AT. Brisk morning, but relatively clear, Jayson and I decided to try to hit some of the cooler parts of the Water Gap park as well as the AT. I felt really good the whole run (like dynamite according to Jayson) and really didn’t notice even the slightest bit of fatigue until the final few miles, which was mostly because I’d stopped eating hours before.

Sun April 14, 10 Miles 2960′ 1:19 Power Line trails. I thought I’d be pretty beat up, but actually, I felt fine for the most part.

Mon April 15, 10 Miles 2960′ 1:18 Easy Power Line jog

Tues April 16, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1:19 Another easy run, legs are feeling fine.
PM 1 Mile :09  Shakeout

Wed April 17, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1:18 Just trying to embrace the mundane consistency required to train for races of this length.
PM 5 Miles 1480′ 38:30 The weather was too incredible to NOT run again, 75ish, sunny, shirtless weather (first time of 2013!)

Thurs April 18, AM 5 Miles, 1480′ :41 Feeling sluggish, and not quite there mentally
PM, 10.5 Miles   Ran with Angelo for a bit, rather quickly (Angelo runs from the same start point as the Highlands Hashers, but a bit earlier, so we’ve been crossing paths for the past month or so) then finished up with the broken shin loop. Felt incredibly shitty for 3ish miles in the final 5, most likely from low blood sugar and a bit of dehydration, nothing I couldn’t have fixed with a GU and something to drink.

Fri April 19, 10 Miles, 2990′ 1:21 Regular Power Line run

Sat April 20, 1 Mile, :09 Played my final concert with the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra the night before, so the combination of lack of sleep, and massive hangover really put a damper on any plans I may have had… also, last drops of beer before the race, Got to clean up for a couple of weeks to make sure that I’m in top shape.

Sun April 21, 15 Miles, 4440′ 2:04 Power Lines in triplicate. Overall things felt really strong, but I was pressed for time between teachings, and had a small niggle in my hip/knee on my right leg, so it seemed like a prudent plan to cut things off.

Overall I’m feeling really fit right now, and comparing my mileage/times to last year, it looks like I’m right. I’ll probably end up ~150 miles shy of last years total before the NF Bear Mountain race, but my last six weeks have been much higher in volume, as well as a LOT more consistent than they were last year. Hopefully my concentration on technical trail and vertical gain/loss will end up paying off in the long run. As for what’s coming up… I’m hoping to train hard through the 28th or so, and then cut a really hard taper going into the race. Judging by the way that my legs have been recovering, I think I can get away with a relatively short taper (as opposed to the 2 week taper I did last year) plus, the additional mileage and time on trail is helping to really boost my confidence going into the race.

Somewhere on the Kittatinny ridge

Jasyson on Raccoon Ridge

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Summary April 1- 7

Monday April 1, 7 Miles, 940′ :50 Local neighborhood run before I had to run to class, nothing special other than a general weightiness in my legs obviously derived from the weekends abuse. Still pretty happy with the general “autopilot” setting I’ve seemed to work into my legs though.

Tuesday April 2, AM, 10 miles, 2960′ 1:14 Double run through the powerline trails. Usually this takes me closer to 80 mins from door to door, but without deliberately pushing the tempo I shaved the extra six off, also I’m finally feeling 100% confident in my legs ability to support me through full-speed technical downhill… things are coming together.
PM 7 Miles 940′ :46 Snappy-ish run around the golf course and on the local hills; strength is coming back quickly.

Wed April 3, 12 Miles, 2690′ 1:27 Power Line trails with a short road-oriented add-on. Feeling kind of beat up and generally shitty overall, but that seems to be par for the course whenever my mileage starts getting near triple-digits.

Thurs April 4, AM 10 Miles 2960′ 1:19 Taking it relatively easy on the power lines today expecting to run again in the afternoon, and hoping for a little left in the tank
PM 10 Miles 1440′ Double Broken-Shin loop. Generally feeling like hell the whole way, tired, heavy legged, slight stomach problems, and really not there mentally. I did manage to kick pretty hard in the last 1.5 miles or so, which was a big mental boost, but generally a miserable run (in spite of good company)

Fri April 5, 8 Miles 2000′ 1:05 Wholly miserable on Allamuchy. TH>Summit in near record time, but with my legs being doggedly heavy.
PM 2 Miles :15 Hoping that a proper-shakeout would help me salvage the following day

Sat April 6, 9 Miles 2400′ Another miserable day on Allamuchy. Basically gave up, came home, and poured myself a glass of Bulleit.

Sunday April 7 25 Miles, 7400′ 3:26 Power Line Quinfecta. Saturday night I realized that if I were to run the power line loop 5 times, I would exceed the vert/miles of the Bear Mountain course by a few feet (~20/mile) hit a reasonably similar amount of rocks, and be able to resupply every 5 miles, much like an aid station. In spite of the sisyphean nature of repeated loops I felt really good the whole way through, and hit almost dead even splits.

Totals: 100 Miles, 24,000′
Finally, back into triple digit weeks (granted if you broke up my week differently, you could have made 100 miles in seven consecutive days already). In spite of the mercurial nature of my runs, or at least how I feel about my runs, the stopwatch seems to be pretty consistent, and as I’ve noticed every other time I get into higher volume mileage, I’m a much happier person when my legs are sore. The only real hangups this week have been some lingering foot-care problems (blistering etc) and a couple of “bad” days, but those are bound to happen anyhow, and without them I doubt that I’d ever get any proper rest anyhow. Otherwise, I’m really gaining some confidence getting closer to the TNF Bear Mountain 50 in early May.

Summary March 25-31

Monday March 25 AM, 8 Miles 1:00 According to weather.com it was going to rain/snow this day, so I planned to suffer the treadmill with my buddy Pete (one of the few upsides of the dreadmill is that you can do so alongside friends who wouldn’t otherwise keep up). Instead, it was decent out (at least in the AM) so we were inside for nothing. Anyhow, I still think there’s validity in an even-paced effort on the suffer-machine.
PM 4 Miles, :30 Now it starts to precipitate… finishing the day off on the ‘mill again followed by some leg work with the weights.

Tues March 26 AM, 10 Miles 1:35 2500′ Ran the Wildcat Ridge Romp course with Dave. Surprisingly this isn’t too far off of the single-loop CR… and also near Dave’s PB on the course
PM 3 Miles :20 Evening shakeout, not too hard, just trying to keep the blood moving through the legs.

Wed March 27, 6 Miles 39:30 580′ End of day run.. Had to go into the city in the morning which functionally eliminated the chance for a morning run.

Thurs March 28, AM, 7 Miles 45:15 940′ Pre-class morning run through the local neighborhood roads. Didn’t expect to run particularly quickly, nor did I feel like I was exerting myself at all throughout the run. Overall pretty pleased with the outing.
PM 8 Miles 1:02 1020′ Ran into Dave as I was pulling into the lot (early) so we ran a pretty snappy 3 mile loop with a couple of intervals followed by the usual casual broken-shin-loop.

Fri March 29, 12 Miles 1:42 3000′ Allamuchy. First time back since the hash (I think) feeling remarkably solid throughout, although running conservatively. last 5k was at sub 7 pace without really trying to do so, so I guess hitting flats/roads quicker is starting to pay off as far as setting an automated easy-terrain pace. Also, took a gnarly fall around 8 miles in… more trail rash…

Sat March 30, 18 Miles 2:42 5000′ Originally meant to do more miles to make it a “real” long run, but as the mileage piled on, it became increasingly apparent that it was not the best day to be putting major stress on my legs. Fundamentally I knew that I was going to have to put on some mileage on Sunday to really reap the benefits of a higher mileage week, and if I ran much more I was unlikely to force myself out the next day. As important as I think long runs are… I think the day after, starting on shit-legs and running 10 or so miles in general misery is more important (mentally and physically)
PM 1 Mile 9:00 Easy-peasy shakeout

Sunday March 31, 11 Miles 1:27 2980′  Pseudo-recovery run-ish type thing? Okay fuck it, it wasn’t a recovery run, it wasn’t a workout either… it was mostly a day out on the trails where mile 1 felt like mile 45… hang on and hope for the best.
PM 1 Mile 9:40 Probably the only real relaxation mile of the week.

Totals: 89 Miles, 16,020′
Pretty happy with this week overall, it seems that I’m hitting some reasonably substantial vert while still maintaining some quickness under my feet. I still need some bigger miles, as well as some genuine long runs going into race season, but in spite of my comparatively low mileage on the year I’m feeling reasonably fit and continuing to surprise myself with the strength in my legs during the most tired moments.

Coming off the overlook at Alllamuchy

Testing the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest

Power-Hike

Sometimes you just can’t run the incline