Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hansons!! Where's My Taper Time?

Monday workout: 5 miles, 10:52 average, Pace Gloves
Tuesday workout: 9 miles with 4 x 1.5 miles (9:30 with 400m rest), Pace Gloves

And on National Whatever Day, she rested.

I was so ready for this past running week (Thursday-Tuesday) to be over. As I mentioned on Sunday, I finished the week feeling really tired and not my usual, confident, (sarcastically) enthusiastic self. Also, it was hot as balls, which certainly didn't help the situation. "Hot as balls" is relative, of course. But spending all day in an office whose windows don't open (?) and whose ventilation system is broken did not a happy Jeano (slash workforce) make. Fortunately, though, the hot weather has passed, leaving us with cool temps and green trees!

True story: I was looking out my coworker's window today and said something like, "The glass in the windows must distort the colors outside; look how green it is!" to which she deadpanned, "Those are leaves." Touché, observant coworker.

But really, it sure is pretty out there.




So on this my rest day, two and a half weeks out from my marathon, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my Hanson taper. Let's take a look at the last three weeks of the training plan, shall we?

Would you look at that.

And now for an exercise in "What the f#*@, Hansons?", let's examine my reaction as I looked at the last two weeks day by day.

7 miles? I ran 10 miles yesterday! I usually get to run 5 miles on Mondays; why am I running 7?!

9 miles? Really? Why did I run 49 miles over the past six days? That sounds like a lot of miles, right? Too many miles. At least tomorrow's a rest day. And then I taper, right?

Yessssss, taper time, baby!


We're still doing these long tempos, huh? Well, yesterday was a rest day; I'm feeling rested. Taper time, baby!

Where's my taper time?! 6 miles following a 12-miler doesn't sound like taper time, but whatever.

7 miles sounds even less like taper time, but at least it's the shortest long run I've done in ages. And at least I got to skip my scheduled 5-miler because I just found out my race is on Saturday and not Sunday. Joke's on you, Hansons!

Dammit. There's another one.

And another! I don't want to whine or anything, but this is my fifth consecutive day of running. 

Oh, great, the Hansons heard my pleas; taper time, baby! But wait, if I hadn't shifted my runs, I'd be running today. Assholes.

Not what I was hoping for, but finally, semi-taper time! We're done running, right? No more until the race?

What's happening? Where's my taper time? Why am I running 5 miles 2 days before a marathon? Bueller?


Okay, most people do a shakeout run before their race. But this is my third consecutive day of running! Am I rested? I've already run 19 miles this week. I was supposed to run 24! 24 used to be my average weekly mileage before I started marathon training. Who do those Hansons think they are?! Maybe I'll fail my marathon just so I can prove they're meanies.

*Passes out*

End Scene.

I was obviously a bit fragile. And talking to myself as though I was doing these runs while reading them.

When I first looked at the last few weeks of my plan (which, honestly, I didn't do until very recently), I considered changing it so I could run fewer miles and take more rest days. However, I can't deny that the Hansons have been spot on this entire training cycle. Straying from the plan when it's been going so well would be dumb. So in the name of science, I'll shut up and do what they tell me.


So what's up with the Hanson taper? Why doesn't it give you as much taper time as traditional plans?

Well, the Hansons think that people who do 2-4 week tapers lose some of the fitness they gained during training. Also, from their mouths,

"When runners subtract too much training too quickly, they often feel sluggish and even more fatigued than they did when they were in their peak training days. By cutting the training back in a gradual manner, you'll feel fresh and ready to race."

I like feeling fresh and ready to race.

I was particularly excited to read the following:

"From a physiological standpoint, the taper fits well with the principle of cumulative fatigue, as the training program does not allow you to completely recover until you reach those final 10 days. Over the last couple of months of the program, some of the good hormones, enzymes, and functions in your body have been suppressed through incomplete recovery, while the by-products of fatigue have been simultaneously building. With reduced intensity and volume during the taper, these good functions flourish... If you are worried about your ability to run a complete marathon at the pace of your tempo runs, consider this: The taper can elicit improvements of up to 3 percent. That is the difference between a 4:00 marathon and a 3:53 marathon."

Well hey, I can get on board with that.

POST-MARATHON UPDATE: Hanson taper was awesome. Trust it. And maybe read some more about it here if "Hanson taper was awesome" isn't enough to convince you.

  • How long do you usually taper for?
  • Are you celebrating this "holiday?" It's a bit frou-frou for me, but I can appreciate the idea of it motivating others to be active.


  1. OK, so forget my last comment where I was like you will be complaining of broedome during your taper. There is no rest with the Hanson Brothers, no rest, indeed. Think how amazingly good you will feel AFTER the race when you can wake up and think about whether or not you FEEL like going for a run that day and make a decision based on that. Amazing, yes? Hansons better have you rocking the marathon to the finish line and back for all the work they are making you do (and that you are so diligently following). Go for it! We are cheering you on!

    1. Ahaha, I'm glad you think it's a lot because when I saw that other comment, I was wondering if I'm just a wimp. It seems a little extreme to me!

      I am INCREDIBLY excited to run when/how far I want. And to go hiking! That's been totally neglected for much too long.

  2. I usually taper for around a week. I never go crazy with anxiety though.mi usually get really happy with all the extra time!!! It's the day before when I do a two mile shake out run that I freak out because the moment I started having labored breathing I freak out and think I won't be able to do it.

    1. So a week-long taper has worked for you, then. I'm glad to hear it! I'm sure I'll be feeling phantom pains/problems all over in those last couple of days...

  3. These Hanson fellas are cray-cray. Dang. I feel like they'd be crazy enough to require you to do an 9 mile speed workout 5 hours before the marathon or something-- they're that nuts. But smart, obviously. I think your diligence is going to pay off. They're like the crazy college professor that you never really make any sense of until AFTER the semester is over and then you look back and you're like "my God, his take on the Russian revolution really WAS brilliant!"

    You're almost there Jeano!

    1. I really HOPE they're the crazy college professor. Part of me's wondering if they're just playing a sick joke on me, though.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Hey now, hey now. One week at a time, OK? Better yet, one RUN at a time. Don't worry about the next, or the next, or the next.

    I will admit, it seems a *tad* heavy 2 weeks out (like, that 10 mile tempo?) - but lots of people nowadays think runners "over-taper". So enjoy the easy paced runs, and TRUST THE PROGRAM. Remember, you're OCD about following it - so don't stop now. Apparently, these guys know what they are doing. Relax, and try to enjoy!

  5. I love those first days of spring when everything starts to turn green, and those leaves are always the greenest leaves you'll see all year, or at least they seem to be. Sorry you're freaking out about your last few weeks of running, but those easy runs will feel nice after all of the tempo running you've been doing. I generally do the 3 week taper for total mileage, but do small amounts of speedwork to keep my legs fresh. I didn't run on National Running Day, either. My heel needed a rest day, and I think my brain did, too. (I had the day off and napped for like 5 or 6 hours after a full night's sleep.)

  6. Jeano, did you end up modifying the taper? I'm 4.5 weeks out from finishing the Hansons plan for the Chicago marathon, and I had the same reaction as you when I saw the lack of taper!! I'm seriously considering modifying the last two weeks of the plan. I just can't imagine how I'll be fresh going into the race if I follow it. Any tips you have based on what you did would be very helpful. Thanks!

  7. I am SO HAPPY I found this blog entry when googling "Hanson Taper" as I am RIGHT where you were when you posted this entry! I swear you are reading my mind as you review the next 3 weeks! DID YOU RUN THE WEEKS AS PLANNED?
    I am going to read on.......

    1. YES, I did do the taper as planned. I wish I had written a blog post on the taper itself since a number of people have asked me about it. It sounds terrifying, but their taper REALLY does work. I felt incredibly tired until three or four days before my marathon, but then everything felt better and it all came together really nicely. I didn't change a thing and felt great on race day. I say you should go for it!

    2. Okay :) I can't believe I found someone with a Hanson's taper topic running my SAME goal of 9:15!! You should come to Chicago and run our marathon - it is so flat and the crowds are awesome - you'd crush it! ( I find that I can't really run a 9:44 - I have to go a bit faster as the distance I run in a marathon is more like 26.42) Today's long run was 10 miles - this is our last week of 9.5 and 12 mile runs - I am so ready for my one week of easy runs :) My running friends think we are crazy. Seriously - running 6 days a week and knowing I did over 800 miles this summer is more rewarding than the actual race.

    3. Yeah, that was totally stupid on my part to not factor in the extra distance. I think I ended up somewhere around 26.4, and since the marathon I ran uses gun time and not chip time (despite the fact that they use chip timers!!!!!! I do not understand this), I came in a couple of minutes over what my 26.2 time actually was.

      I'm not sure whether you had a chance to read my actual race report, but I ended up just over 4:20. It was a surprisingly difficult course, though, and I think I would have been around 4:17 had I run a more normal course. The Hansons definitely delivered as promised!

      Good luck with the taper! And no, you're not crazy at all! You're going to feel SO prepared once race day comes.

  8. LAST speed/strength run! Did a little dance on the trail at the end of the last mile repeat! My husband was up ahead of me and missed it but it was GREAT! I didn't even mind the 1.5 jog home tonight. I've never done any consistent speed training EVER so 18 weeks of it has left me PUMPED! Did you feel this way??

    Hey - 4:20 on a trail marathon ROCKS. You did great - you would have crushed a flat midwest course - the fatigue would not have set in as strongly and you would not have had the bit of a walk I imagine. Trail runs are difficult - esp given varying surfaces you had, truly! It is funny - I've noticed that if I don't stay mentally tough I've occasionally found myself walking before I know it! I practice saying little things to myself to keep it strong like, "this pace is really working for me" or "I'm glad I had that gel, I can feel it perking me up" or " who knew one year ago that I could do this!" It works for me :) Just get me to Friday and I'm good........ I hope.