Tips for Your Marathon Taper

nyc-marathon-3 With the NYC Marathon just over 4 weeks away I thought the following might interest some of you runners out there:

Tapering for a marathon typically begins about 3 weeks prior to the race. It is an essential part of proper marathon training, and when done correctly will greatly improve your strength during race day especially over those last few km’s. You can start your taper following the longest run in your training cycle which is typically done 3 weeks prior to race day and is usually 32-36 km (20+ miles).

  • Last long run or long race 3 weeks before; after that decrease overall mileage by 20% the following week.
  • Don’t give in to the urge to run hard and for long distances. Keep your pace up but the distance down. Long run around 12-15 km two weeks before the marathon.


  • Two weeks until race day it’s now time to decrease the mileage to 50% of what you were doing pre taper.
  • If you want to do a tune-up race keep it to a 10 km or a half marathon for an experienced runner. Make sure you have 2 weeks to recover before your marathon.
  • Really focus on getting enough sleep every night during the next two weeks. Sleep is when the body heals and regenerates.
  • I highly recommend getting a good sports massage, but at least a week before you race as deep tissue work requires some recovery time.


  • Mileage drops to only 30% of pre taper volume. Keep your normal pace but short.
  • Some people don’t run at all for 2 days prior to racing, but personally I like to do a short 30 minute run the day before running a race like the marathon. Just an easy jaunt to get the engine fired up…

End of Summer Blast

capitol-forest-2 Capitol Forest 50/100 Mile


Tyax Adventures: 3-day back country mountain bike trip

What an amazing end to the summer.  I signed up on a whim for a really tough mountain bike race: The Capitol Forest 100 mile race in Washington near Olympia on August 25th.  I also just finished a 3-day trip in the Chilcotins doing some back country mountain biking this past long weekend.  Needless to say I'm feeling a little tired today...

The Capitol Forest 100 mile was a last minute decision.  My friend emailed me on the Tuesday and said, "I'm doing this epic race in Washington, you've got to come."  So of course I signed up and 5 days later I was suffering through a grueling 10.5 hour 160 km race on a really hilly but extremely fast and fun course.  I felt great for the first 5 hours (no wonder since I've been doing mostly 3-5 hour races this summer) and then started to hurt around hour 6.  I managed to pull through after spending some time at an aid station stuffing my face with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, banana, and watermelon.  All in all I finished well and was quite surprised to have finished 11th overall.  The best part was that I finished 3rd in my age category, but had no idea.  I missed my chance to stand on the podium and receive my cheap and tacky medal. hahaha.  I didn't check the official results until 2 days after the race.


Graham Tutti and I in the first few minutes of the race, it was still dark when we started.

This past long weekend I was in the back country doing some really cool mountain biking.  Day one was a grueling 9 hour ride into Trigger Lake.  We spend at least 4 hours pushing our bikes up some brutally steep climbs.  At one point we crossed Dear Lake Pass at an elevation of more than 7500 feet (hard to breathe up there).  We spent the night in tents at the Trigger Lake Camp and our camp cook who brought all our food and beer in on horseback the day before was great.  Super fun night.

Day 2 was an incredibly fun day.  We road a route that is best described as gravy with a few lumps.  Super fast and fun downhill with the occasional steep punchy climb.  It was a 6  hour ride that day so much more sane.  Tyax Lodge hosted a great dinner/party Saturday night which made the final ride on day 3 a little tough...

Day 3 was a 2 hour rip in Whistler on the trial called Train Wreck.  What a great weekend.


Top of Deer Lake Pass: way up there above the tree line: 7500 ft elevation

Day 5: Levi's GranFondo Route

jon-and-jim Day five of the training camp was an epic day.  We rode the same route that the Levi's GranFondo follows.  It was honestly one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done.  This was a fantastic 103 mile day through rolling hills, ranch land, forests, and beautiful coast line.  There were some great challenging climbs and the descents were steep and wickedly fast.  We rode for over 6 hours today...big day.  Check out the map of our route.

Trek Red Truck Racing Team - Santa Rosa Training Camp

getting-ready-to-ride What could be better than 6 days in Californian wine country riding with the Trek Red Truck Racing Team?  Not much if you ask me.  We just finished our 3rd day riding.  The weather has been perfect and the riding unbelievable. 

Day one:  this was supposed to be an easy day.  100km, easy pedaling to get the legs going for the week.  Well it didn't take long for the kids on the team (kids because this is a young team of racers all under 23) to pick up the tempo.  The masters athletes were soon off the back (I stayed on just to about the last 200m of the short climb but that hurt...).  So much for taking it easy.  We road pretty hard for the rest of the day as well.  Fun times.

Day two:  This was a flat 120km rip.  I decided to have a go with the young boys today because there weren't any big hills.  They had me on the edge a number of times, but I managed to hang in there.  It was so fun.  Average speed for the ride was over 35 km/h.  There was a stretch of 15km or so where we didn't go below 42 km/h and up to 50.  That part almost killed me, hahaha

Day three:  I took it easy today (115km with only a few attacks and hard short hills) as the rest of the week gets really hard with long days and big climbs.  The boys were off in their own group and apparently it was a good decision not to join as they hammered today.


Self photo on the top of the climb today.


The Natural Break....hahaha


Coffee break.  Coffee or coke and a snack.

Don’t forget about the aerobic system…


It’s funny how when you get fit and are training regularly how easy it is to fall into the trap of training at high intensities every session. While this seems to make sense it is not how you should do things. High intensity training has a place but just like anything else too much is detrimental. Are you suffering from nagging injuries (sore back, hamstring, IT band, shin splints…), getting sick more than once per year, waking up in the middle of the night, digestion problems (bloating, heart burn, gas…)? Do you know these are all symptoms of overtraining? Too much hard anaerobic training actually becomes detrimental to your health. There are many athletes (professional, amateur, recreational) who are really fit but unhealthy. They are often injured, sick, aren’t sleeping properly, have frequent stomach and intestinal issues. Isn’t exercise supposed to make you healthier? Yes it most definitely will, but like anything else exercise/training requires balance. For many highly active people aerobic base training is ignored. Sustained aerobic exercise at a heart rate of roughly 180 – age (no higher, but up to 10 beats lower) is extremely beneficial to all types of athletes. Obviously endurance athletes require more of this than a sprinter. Recreational athletes, fitness instructors/enthusiasts will all benefit greatly from more aerobic work. Developing your aerobic system improves your body’s ability to use fat as a fuel. Too many of us have an undertrained fat metabolism and rely too heavily on sugar (blood sugar, liver and muscle glycogen) as our main fuel source during exercise. When you decrease some of your anaerobic training sessions and substitute some aerobic work you will greatly improve your fitness. Your immune system is bolstered, you will shift to burning more fat as a fuel; you will become healthier overall. A healthier body is more resilient to injury and will perform at a higher level. With the proper amount of aerobic training you will recover better from hard workouts and in turn be able to work harder during hard training sessions and competition.

It can be difficult to trust that you are benefiting from the relatively ‘easy’ low heart rate training sessions, but take it from me you are. As someone who recently fell into the trap of too many intense training sessions, I can’t express enough how much better I’m feeling now that I’ve dialed things down a bit. Personally I’m working on a 2 month long aerobic base period. I’m not letting my heart rate get above 143. It’s been humbling going out for runs and getting passed… What is really exciting however, are the improvements I am seeing after only 2 weeks. I’m already running and riding faster at my lower heart rate. Who knew that training slower would make me faster, and that my nagging calf tightness would go away? The goal of any athlete should be to perform at higher speeds/intensities with less effort. The only way to get there is to include aerobic base work as part of your training plan. Optimal performance comes from a balanced approach and understanding how to train effectively both for your aerobic and anaerobic workouts. Just because you can train hard every session doesn’t mean you should.

Jon Bula, MSc, endurance athlete enthusiast...

Ride to the Sun

The legendary Cycle to the Sun is one of the most difficult bike climbs in the world. The ride climbs 10,000 feet over 36 miles and reaches gradients up to 18%. As a comparison, the famed Mont Ventou in the Tour de France is only a 5,336 foot climb over 13.6 miles.  It starts in Pa'ia at sea level and finishes up on top of the Haleakala Volcano at just above 10,000 feet (3048 meters).

Last Tuesday while in Maui I couldn't resist the temptation to tackle this ride.  I rented a road bike from a bike shop near where I was staying did a test ride on Monday with Laura and then Tuesday morning started my assault on the volcano as the sun was rising.


This is me by the ocean in Pa'ia; I didn't want to cheat myself out of any climbing so I started the day with a toe in the water...

The day couldn't have been more perfect.  Sunny, warm, minimal wind.  I had my water bottles and snacks packed everything was ready.  In the small parking lot in Pa'ia I met a guy from Belgium who just happened to be attempting the same ride as I was.  We decided to ride out together; I was glad to have some company.  There really is no warm up to this ride.  You start in at sea level and begin climbing immediately.


The above picture is the view looking down from about 5000 feet.  My day to this point was amazing.  The views were spectacular and the temperature was perfect.  My Belgian friend was by this time a little ways back so I was hitting things solo.  I really enjoy climbing on a road bike, the smooth rhythm of a steady cadence and a relatively peaceful road sort of hypnotizes your mind and hours simply disappear.  Things were going on perfectly until roughly 8000 feet into the climb when suddenly one of the spokes on my rear wheel broke.  A broken spoke on a road bike is disastrous as the wheel becomes extremely warped and the bike can be unusable.  I thought my day was done.  Here I am in the middle of nowhere three quarters the way up this mountain and my bike is toast.  I was really angry and disappointed to say the least.  After calling the rental company to complain (not much they could do to help me however) and then calling a good friend of mine to whine, I was torn between hitch hiking down or calling Laura for a rescue.  While sitting there pouting I thought to myself, "fix the bike as best you can, and keep riding you pu**y."  There is really no danger riding on a warped wheel going up a steep slope as you aren't going very fast at all.  I removed the rear break to allow the rim to spin through without catching, and then I went on my way.  The tire would rub the edge of the frame as I went along, but oh well.  The last 2000 feet of the climb was pretty tough as you start to notice the change in the partial pressure of the oxygen (meaning it feels like you are breathing through a straw).  After roughly 4.5 hours of riding and 30 minutes of picture taking and bike fixing I made it to the top and was really glad that I gutted it out, what a view.  There was a fairly large parking lot at the top so I waited by a couple mini vans and a pick up truck looking to bum a ride down.  Climbing with a bad wheel at 10-15 km/h is one thing, but descending up to speeds of 70+ km/h is something else entirely.  As much as I wanted to do the downhill hitch hiking was the way to go.  A nice Canadian couple from Calgary gave me a lift back to Pa'ia.  They were super nice and I'll I had to do was keep giving their 11-week old baby his soother so he wouldn't cry.  All in all one of the coolest rides I've ever done.