Taper Advice Request From Mrs. Richard Simmons

I just wrapped up Week 10 of training for the Heartland 39.3 Challenge, which is the highest mileage week of the program…the crescendo, the height of pain and pleasure, the peak in the training program where I always either start to feel like the shit or begin berating myself up for not being in a better state and begin talking nonsense like “I just want to enjoy the race!”

This training program has been interesting (Hal Higdon’s Advanced Plan), as I’ve discussed before.  I’ve basically modified it every week, since I can’t bring myself to run 6 days each week–3-5 race pace miles on Fridays, then a long run on Saturdays (up to 2 hours now), continuing Sunday through Wednesday with speed work and tempo runs included.

I’ve adapted the program most weeks by dumping the easy run the day after the long run (although I did do it last week and felt great.)

So last week I had a kickass 5-mile race pace run on Friday (averaging 8:22 without very much effort…riding on the NY Marathon high perhaps?) and then followed up with a fantastic 12.3 mile easy run on Saturday (averaging 9:35).  I made a very mellow playlist and took things soooo slow and easy.  My playlist was pretty ridiculous…like Sweatin’ to the Oldies.  I am an elderly woman.

Here is a sample…find any running inspiration here?  I did.


I have to ask, looking at this playlist photo…does an explicit version of Kenny Loggins’ Heart to Heart even exist?

Tell the truth, bitch

Don’t fucking turn away

From this one last chance

To touch each other’s heart

Is that out there somewhere?  Dare I dream?

I came home on a runner’s high, which is not good for HH, since that means I will talk about my run in infinite detail.

airplane meme

Poor HH.

Now for my question…I am hoping for some advice from my fellow running fiends.  The Advanced plan calls for me to do another 2-hour long run this weekend (the weekend before the first half.)  It then calls for a bit of tapering during the week (2 miles instead of 3, a speed workout, a 30-minute tempo run, and then two days rest before the race.)

Does this seem like enough tapering to you?  Basically, I am just wondering if it’s okay that I will be running over 12 miles the weekend before.  Most plans that I’ve followed in the past have called for a reduction in mileage for the last long run before the race.  I know that Hal knows what he is doing with his plans, but I am just wondering if I’m up to heeding his call or if I would be better off to run something like 9-10 instead.  I felt strong this weekend and completed the 2-hour run easily, so that makes me think I’m okay to do another one, but I don’t want to come in tired and not at my potential, especially when I’ve worked so hard this cycle on speed and have another two half marathons in the four weeks following the race.

I will appreciate and welcome any thoughts/suggestions/advice.  Many of my running readers are far faster and more experienced than I am, so I am looking to you for your expert judgment (and any info on whether Kenny Loggins ever released a raunchy or explicit version of his seminal song, Heart to Heart.)


22 thoughts on “Taper Advice Request From Mrs. Richard Simmons

  1. Proud Mary! Love that song.

    I usually run 10 miles the week before if I’m RACING a half…anywhere from 8-10 miles a week out. Listen to your body…some of the advanced training plans can be excessive IMO…so if you feel like 12 may be too much then I wouldn’t push it. Otherwise go for it. Less is more and you want to have fresh legs on race day so do what you’ve gotta do.


  2. Who am I to second guess Hal – I can only tell you what works for me for half marathon tapering. The last long run I do is two weeks out. A weekend before I do a quickish 10k. Then during race week some short sessions one of which is a short interval sessions (6 x 100m with a minute rest between) and maybe a couple of 4 mile runs with some tempo. Then two days out 5k easy run with 4 or 5 100m strides. Rest the day before. Can’t help with Kenny Logins though! Good luck.


  3. As my coach says, “The hay is in the barn”. You reducing a few miles of taper will not change the outcome of the race in a negative way. You’ve done your training, so if you feel more comfortable with a few less miles, then listen to yourself and do it!


  4. Well, you know I feel about taper weeks, but I don’t even run as fast as you, so I can’t give any insight. Follow the train of thought here and listen to your body…and eat all the foods. 😉


  5. I think you’ll be fine at that distance if you’ve been following the advanced program. It’s designed for people who are used to running and can handle the volume (hence the extra days of training and speedwork), or going further than half distance.
    However, if you’ve been dropping a day of running to get through it, you might consider taking a mile off the distance as a minor correction, but I tend to find a week long taper for a half is fine. All the best for the race!


  6. I usually wouldn’t question Hal, but I have never not had a shorter long run the weekend before a race… even when I was using Hal’s plans (though they were intermediate I think). If I were you, I would base it on how your body feels this week during your other runs. It seems like it has been a real hard training cycle with fewer rest days than you would normally take (definitely fewer than I could ever take). If you get to the weekend and you feel fatigued I would shorten the run and give your body a better chance to recover until your race. Good luck!


    • Thanks, Anna! I am thinking 10 should be plenty…I get too hung up on training programs, I think, even after all these years of running, and I need to let that go and just pay attention to what my brain is telling me. 🙂


  7. I have no advice on tapering because I suck at it and also the longest race I’ve ever run is a half marathon, but I pretty much adore your playlist AND Kenny Loggins (and his apparent sailor mouth).


  8. I think you will do well either way. Psychologically a lower mileage run helps me the week before (but I’ve only run one half). Honestly I think you will do fine. Just make sure your legs feel good and keep that kicking spirit going. Have fun!!!


  9. You have two choices in this taper. If you’re feeling strong and the training hasn’t been rough on you (injuries, taxing, over training, lack of rest), then put your trust in the coach’s plan. However, if you’re like me and injury-prone, or your body is calling for a break, reduce the weekend’s mileage. I mean, perspective-wise, you’re following the advanced plan, so the idea is that your body should be in good enough shape to handle the training. Go with your gut though, and remember that the most important thing is to have a good taper mentally. Feel relaxed and strong. Good luck with it!


    • Thank you for your advice! I think part of my anxiety was just knowing that I hadn’t followed the plan well the entire training cycle. I felt much better just doing 10 miles and finishing feeling strong. Thanks for reading!


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