Week 6: Taper ESG

The final week before the Emergency Services Games. No more killer sessions. The hard work in training has been done. No hard runs will add to my fitness now. Instead this week is about ensuring I am recovered enough from the previous weeks of training and making sure I am primed to run fast on race day. The taper is a mixture of art and science. This is what mine looks like.

My taper is seven days. Sunday to Saturday inclusive, with my first race, the 10km cross country being the following day. The half marathon will be exactly one week later.

Getting out of bed on the first day was painful. The accumulated stress of the 5 weeks of training had come to a head. The 10 hill repeats up the 245 the previous day certainly added to that. My usual tibialis posterior difficulties were showing up. Adding to this my left leg and foot had some new flare ups. The tibialis anterior was fairly tender, but my worry was the pain across the top of my foot. The extensor tendons were sore, there was some inflammation and they were tight. This can be an injury that sticks around for an extended time. So already I knew wasn't going to be attacking any hills this week. Instead I started with a very easy and therefore very slow 45 minute run. Enough to stimulate some blood and lymph flow, encourage the muscle and tendon fibers to mend as functional units and not cross bridged adhesions.

On the second I plodded through 35 minutes in even slower fashion. Clearly my body was already in repair mode. An absolute lack of power in the muscles coupled with a certain heaviness makes me feel as though I've already lost form. Yet, it is part of what the recovery process feels like. Despite knowing better, it is still a mental struggle not to go out and run hard and fast out of fear of losing fitness. At least some stretching, massage and ice make me feel like I am doing something beneficial.

Originally I planned to hit one repeat, instead of two of my 7.6km course at half marathon pace. The planned changed, as there was still some soreness and swelling over the extensor tendons in my left foot. So I just ran very comfortably for an hour, finishing with a good dose of stretching. My body needs the recovery, but my head really wants a test session. I'll go with what the body needs. So into the 4th day of the taper I keep everything down to an easy 30 minutes. Really it was the a warm up, that didn't go anywhere, beyond stimulating some blood flow.

Next was the day after a night shift. I got in as much sleep as possible and even managed to get back to bed early that night. No running. Just opportunity for the repair work to occur.

Two days from race day, and my legs feels heavy, feel like I have lost all my fitness. Time to prime the engine for Sunday. Simple concept, a bit of fast running to kick off the heavy, slow feeling of recovery, but not too much to risk taking away from race day. This takes me to the athletics track with the kids. An easy warm, then a handful of 400m repeats run so they feel fast, but not hard. I chase the form of natural speed and get faster with each repeat as my body regains the coordination for running quick. Plenty of recovery and eventually I feel ready to race. The next day will be no running, and hopefully I have things right that a moderate warm up on race day will have everything firing as they should on the start line.

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