I wanted to get a quick note out there for all of our PCF athletes who will be competing in this weekends ‘Chevron Houston Marathon’ and ‘Aramco Half Marathon’.  By my most recent count, we have 13 or so of our athletes planning on participating in one of these races, quite an impressive number!  These 13 hardy individuals have already recognized the benefits of CrossFit on endurance sport training with a reduced overall training volume requirement (which also equals less injury potential), and this weekend we hope to see them enjoy an overall more enjoyable race experience and (hopefully) faster race times!  On the crossover benefits of CrossFit to endurance events, Shawn McDonald told me my first week at the box, “We don’t know why it works, it just does,” and you know what?  He was right, CrossFit makes you a better endurance athlete with a fraction of the time required on the road, trail or pool.

Coming into CrossFit out of the endurance racing world, and having competed in about a dozen endurance events (including marathons, half-IronMan triathlons, and mountain bike races) and setting several PRs in those over the past 24 months while also CrossFitting , I did want to share some quick notes from my experiences on the best way to manage the “taper week” before an event.  Now obviously this is only based on my personal experiences, and each individual will have to find what works best for them, but I did field a few questions and comments this week and thought I might take a moment to offer my 2 cents (which probably isn’t even worth that).

Question: Should I do anything different in my CrossFit training the week before the race?

Answer: Yes, obviously.  Actually, this wasn’t even a direct question to me, as it is obvious to most people that they can’t pound out metcons in the 3 days immediately prior to a race and expect to have an enjoyable experience, but I did want to pose the question to address a point.  The degree to which you modify your CrossFit training in the week before a race depends on a lot of factors:

– Race-Day Goals: Are you out to set a PR in that distance/event, or are you just out to enjoy it.
– Age and Recovery Capacity: If you’re a 22 year old wonder-child, your taper requirements to perform at max capacity are much different than a 51 year old Masters champ.
– Distance/ Duration of the Event: A marathon taper is going to look a lot different from a 10k taper.
– Event Specific Experience: Is this your first half-marathon or your twelfth?

All of these factors should be considered when tweaking your training taper plans.

Question: So you’ve given me nothing specific here, where do I start?  What does a good taper week look like?

Answer: I think it is fairly obvious that if you are racing on a Saturday or Sunday, it is not in your best interest to grind through a chipper WOD on Friday.  Neither is it in your best interest to simply do nothing all week.  As a general rule, I think the following is a pretty good framework to apply to the taper week before an event (Assuming a Sunday race for a >2 hour event that you want to set a good personal time in):

Sunday – Rest
Monday – CrossFit WOD.  Modify more than normal only if it is a particularly demanding workout or the movements are specifically challenging for you personally (now is no the time to practice your pistols or do 400M of walking lunges).
Tuesday – CrossFit WOD. Modify per above note.
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 1 to 2 mile run (race pace) or CrossFit metcon (modified significantly and capped at 6 minutes).
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 1 mile run with two 30 second ‘pick-ups.’
Sunday – Race

As noted in the first question, this all gets modified based on many factors.  If you’re out just to have fun and don’t want to throw off the regular training schedule, go ahead and train through the week (although you may want to take it easy the day before the event).  Have you been feeling down and busted lately and noticed your run times and your WOD times have been down as well, take the whole week off from CrossFit and just throw in a light run or two (the week off will do only good and no bad for you). I think you get the idea.

I hope this helps at least a little bit, if you have any questions, feel free to hit me up this week, or go check out http://www.crossfitendurance.com/.

Good luck and good running!