Monday, August 26, 2013

Training Revision: Ten 'Til Taper

I have made an interesting choice with my training. I'm changing it entirely. And I'm changing it near the peak of my training. *GASP* My goal race, The Lakefront Marathon, is on October 6th.

When training for my last two marathons, I have followed hybrids of traditional plans that gradually increase mileage and goal paces until peaking a few weeks out - taper - race. You know the drill. It might be completely ill-advised, but I'm doing something completely different this time. Why? Because balls to the wall.

The "plan" that I have decided to follow is of my own invention. Don't go and try to patent it, because it isn't tested and it is MINE. ;) I'm basing it on a daily mileage of TEN MILES - hence the name, "Ten 'Til Taper." I will do exactly that - I will run ten miles every day until taper while abiding by the following rules:

1. Long runs will still happen as scheduled. The day before or after a long run (not both) will be enough to equal 20+ miles for the two days. Example: Sunday long run = 16 miles. Monday run = four miles. Total = 20 miles/2 days = 10 miles/day. Got it? If you go over the 10 mile daily average, that's fine - but no less.

2. Speed work and hills must be built into the 10 miles for any given day as planned. The speed work can be done on a track, but the remaining distance must be done after the workout.

3. Easy days must be run easily. 1:30 min below race pace for a total of 10 miles.

4. Once a week, the workout can be divided into two separate runs. Example: 6 miles in the morning, 4 miles in the evening. This can be done on speed work days.

5. Cross training does not count toward mileage and should be done as scheduled in addition to daily mileage of 10 mile average. 

That is it. 70+ miles. No excuses. Speed, hills, distance included. Either this will be a genius way to end my cycle or it will fail miserably and I will feel it come race day. I'm excited to try it out, because it eliminates the question, "What is my workout today?" 

Oh - that's right - it's TEN 'TIL TAPER!  

What's the rationale behind all this? The fact of the matter is that I have some specific goals tied to the race in October. While traditional plans have been fine in the past, I need something that is going to put my training over the top. By maintaining higher mileage for the last few weeks of training before taper, I hope to develop some muscle memory and strength. I'm looking to PR in the marathon; you can't achieve new goals doing the same thing over and over. 


  1. My thoughts, in order:
    1. Why????
    2. Hmmm....
    3. Won't you get bored?
    4. Haruki Murakami runs six miles a day (I think) and I remember thinking, when I read about it in his book, "Oh, wow. Running really could be that simple." and feeling kind of silly with my training plans and my watch and whatever else. I hope it works well for you!

    1. Why? Well - it will increase my mileage for the last few weeks. It won't be boring because my workouts will still be different - and run in different places. It's not like I'm going to "jog" 10 miles every day. Varying intensities, terrains, routes - just like any other plan.

      The fact of the matter is that traditional training plans have been fine in the past - but this will push the mileage last few weeks a little bit. Hopefully developing some muscle memory. I'm looking to PR in my marathon. We'll see what happens.

  2. I'm eager to hear how this works out for you! Please do a post on what led you to this idea since I'm very curious to know the rationale! Rooting for you :)

    1. My rationale: I just wanted to add an additional level of intensity to the peak of training. In the past, the gradual growth toward taper has been fine - but I want to maintain higher mileage for a slightly longer period of time to hopefully give my training the push it needs to see actual improvement on race day.

      It really isn't that different from other plans - I'll still have long runs, speed work, tempos, etc. But by maintaining higher mileage for a few weeks, I'm hoping to develop some muscle memory and strength.

  3. What does the mileage jump look like from where you are currently? Be careful with biting off too much too soon. One thing that I have found to work well for building "muscle memory and strength" is building in marathon pace miles into the long run. For example, take that 20 mile run and make it into 3x5 miles at MRP with 1 mile in between or do 20 with the last 6 at descending tempo till you hit half marathon pace. Another one I like is 20 with blocks of 5 with four different paces...all progressively faster.

    Just something to think about if you are looking to make a jump and build strength and effeciency...good luck with the mileage increase.

    1. Thanks - I do similar workouts to what you've suggested. I like the block progression idea.

      The mileage difference will be ten miles for this week but ending up only 4 miles higher than I would've been at peak. This will just maintain the higher mileage for a slightly longer period of time.

  4. Michelle, I really like this plan! I've always thought mentally, if you get to the point where 10 miles doesn't seem all that far- then the distance of the marathon isn't so daunting. When you get to the point where 10 is what a 6 miler used to feel like, then you get to 10 in the race, you only have to do it once more plus 6! I tried to do a lot of 10's in my Shamrock training last spring and it worked great. Good luck, I think you are going to do great with this and I can't wait to hear about it. :)

  5. That's exactly what I thought - 10s feel like my old 7 route. We'll see how it goes, I guess!