During a taper, I usually feel worse before I feel better. Heavy legs and lethargy are the rule. This time, the lethargy is there, but the speed is also there. It doesn't make sense. Taking one rest day shouldn't translate into "fastest times of the season" during my training sessions, and yet, that seems to be what's happening. I don't know whether to panic that I've tapered too soon or feel good that my taper is "working."
This season I've been using a training plan and workout suggestions from two sources: the book "Going Long" by Joe Friel & Gordon Byrn and an Ironman Training plan from Ben Greenfield through the Training Peaks website. I worked up a program to specifically address my major personal limiters: bike speed and muscular endurance. I mostly customized training suggestions from Joe Friel's book and threw in hard run workouts from Greenfield because they were similar to what I've successfully done in the past when marathon training. I worked through the confusion of how many long (80-100 mile) rides and (20+ mile) runs to complete -- Friel doesn't give any numbers, and Greenfield has only one century ride and one really long run (not even 20 miles). I also reasoned through my mental inability to do hard intervals daily as suggested in Greenfield's plan. Sometimes, I just threw in a mental break and did an LSD (long slow distance) workout midweek to alleviate other mental stresses (such as work). As my doctor would say, I self-medicate by running, and this year, I often needed to remind myself that endurance training is still fun. I hope this does not sacrifice my performance in Lake Placid.
So now, as I said in a previous blog, my biggest concern is how to taper. The two training plans are radically different in their tapers. Friel suggests a three week taper ("peak") with four race-simulation bike-run workouts -- with mostly recovery and rest in between. Greenfield suggests many short but hard interval sessions similar to the weekly structure of his training plan. I decided to go with Friel's plan because, with my lack of races this year, it makes more sense to practice race-simulations, and I selfishly wanted more rest because last week I was mentally and physically spent.
However, now I'm experiencing quite a different feeling. The key in the next two weeks will be to keep a lid on the stress and stay positive about all the work I've done. As my husband says, "focus on racing smart and just do what you have to do, and the rest will fall into place." Hmm.. it makes sense. Even the Disaster Magnet can understand rational thought once in a while.