After the 50 mile (80 km) training run, it wasn’t terribly necessary to continue building any fitness/endurance base in the final three weeks before the race. At that point, it’s more about maintaining a high level of fitness. The taper was underway...kind of.
One could argue that the taper didn’t begin until two weeks before the race, and still won’t begin in earnest until only one week before. I’m still doing the same amount of floor exercises, and have added a few to my repertoire in the past week. And while the total running volume is dropping considerably, that’s kind of misleading.
In the third-to-last week, all my runs were the same length as a “normal” week, with the exception of the long run dropping from 80 km to 50 km. That’s a huge drop, but only one day of the week was affected at all. In fact, the week’s total distance was about the same as the prior week, since I didn’t take a day off like I did before the 50 mile run. For the fifth week in a row, the weekly total came to over 100 miles.
With two weeks to go, most runs are dropping in length by only about 2 km. For most runs, that’s a difference of less than 10%. The weekly long run drops considerably again, from 50 km to 30 km, but most of the week is comparable to my peak training, which went on for about a month.
It’s only the last week that looks dramatically different from a normal week. During that time, the plan is to run every other day, and none of the runs will be particularly long. On days off, go for a walk. The amount of floor exercises will finally decrease, from two hours at the beginning of the week down to 20 minutes the day before the race.
Now in the second-to-last week, I keep reminding myself that it’s only six more days before things get a lot easier. And then it’ll be five days, and then four, and then…
One of the hardest things about all this is diet. Since I’m backing off on calories burned, I’ll also have to back off on calories eaten. Appetite doesn’t decrease the moment you stop exercising, so changing your diet to match can be difficult. I’ll need to have the discipline to refrain from eating, even when I feel hungry. Otherwise, I’ll gain weight right before the race, negating some of the hard work I’ve put in the past few months.
Instead, I’m trying to work the other direction and lose one last pound (maybe two), if possible. To accomplish that, my training is staying mostly the same, as noted above, and I’m trying to cut down on grains. Not only does that put me in a calorie deficit and cause weight loss, but theoretically, it teaches my body to better use its fat stores for energy. Since it’s impossible to eat enough carbs to sustain you through a 100 mile race, the ability to tap into that source of stored energy is imperative.
At this point, there’s nothing I’m doing that’s more difficult than what I’ve done before. For the next two weeks, the key is discipline.