Tarpley: Taper your training before a big race, says expert Jo Stephenson

Jo Stephenson finishing the Tarpley 20

Jo Stephenson finishing the Tarpley 20 - Credit: Contributed

BUSY mum-of-two Jo Stephenson usually runs three times a week and with a little juggling she manages to keep her training up even during the school holidays.

Jo, who is training for the Brighton Marathon and helping others hoping to complete the Virgin London Marathon this spring, said: “My marathon training plans had to be shelved slightly last week, due to a four-night break away with the family over half term.

“However, I was able to bring my long weekly run forward by a couple of days and managed the planned 18 miles before we went.

“I did sneak my running kit into the suitcase but unfortunately it never made it further than the hotel’s gym where I managed to do some leg strengthening exercises to console myself.”

Jo, who coaches with the Stowmarket Striders, continued: “I actually didn’t worry too much about not getting in the prescribed three weekly runs as I knew I was coming back to take part in the Bury Pacers Tarpley 20 race on the Sunday that we returned.

“So I looked upon the break from running as a taper; that period just before a race where your long runs become shorter and the intensity of your training is reduced, in order for your body to recover and repair itself from all the training in readiness for the big effort on the day.”

Jo has adopted a slightly unorthodox training regime this time around, to see if it improves her race times and having completed the Tarpley 20 last weekend, she said: “At the end of nine-weeks of training I am once again really pleased to say that the plan seems to be doing its job.

Most Read

“The training plan told me I should do the race at an average pace of 9:16 minute miles, a total running time of 3 hours 5mins. My running buddy, Megan, and I were determined to not “race” this, and to stick to the plan. It’s a sensible theory during the middle of marathon training; if you go out too fast and push yourself too much you may not have time to recover adequately for your next training session.

“Of course we didn’t exactly stick to that and the whole “race thing” took over and although “sticking to plan” made sure we didn’t race off too fast to start with, we did however run it faster and I averaged an 8:40 minute mile pace finishing the race in 2 hours 55 minutes.”

Describing the route, she said: “It’s a lovely race taking us through some beautiful Suffolk countryside and villages with a few “undulations” to keep you on your toes. It was cold and a bit blustery, but thankfully dry.

“My legs were sore for the next couple of days, but not so that I couldn’t achieve my next training session.”

She continued :”I am now looking forward to my next race, which is the Stowmarket Striders Half Marathon on March 24. It’s another 20-miler on the plan so we’ll be running 7 miles there and then doing the 13 miles of the race.”

For more information visit http://www.stowmarketstriders.org.uk/StowHalf.shtml

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter