I survived my peak week of training for the Flying Pig Marathon. Now it’s taper time!
Basically, the idea is that I have done 16 hard weeks of training, and for the next three weeks, I will maintain that fitness, but let my legs recover and rebuild to feel strong on race day. Lots of people freak out a little bit in the taper, but I am trying to remember that now is the time to trust my training….
Here’s how it went:
Yes, I’m patting myself on the back for supporting my favorite runner on his long run.
He was traveling for work yesterday, so he missed the long run with the Calhoun Beach Running Club. Instead, he had to run his 22 miler today. He did a “capitol” run as his route. I waited at three different spots along the way with Gatorade, water, and GUs..and some encouraging words.
However, it was a tad more challenging for Dustin, whose back was really bothering him after sitting in conferences for the past three days…He made it though the run though, and now he can join me on the lovely taper before the marathon. He said he really appreciated my support.
- No more long runs:
Your final long run should be no less than 14 days before the marathon. If you’ve missed some of your scheduled long runs, it’s too late to make up for it now. Anything above 15 miles now will most likely hurt your performance on race day.
- Cut back the mileage: Decrease your total weekly mileage by about 40 percent starting two weeks out. During race week, reduce your overall mileage by at least 60 percent. For example, a runner whose weekly training mileage peaked at 60 miles should run 36 miles the week before race week, and no more than 25 in race week. During the last four days before the marathon, don’t do any runs of more than three miles. If you’d rather take the last two days completely off, that’s OK too. Don’t worry about mileage during race week—you’ll get your fill on Sunday morning.
- Maintain the intensity: Even though you are cutting back on your mileage, it’s important to maintain the intensity of these workouts. Run at close to marathon pace, so your body is accustomed to the effort level you will demand during the race.
- Avoid the hills: Don’t run any hills during race week—it helps your legs recover more quickly. It’s just like with the mileage: you’ll get plenty of hills on race day.
- Choose your weapons: Decide what clothes you will wear on race day. Pick comfortable shoes, socks, and running clothes that you’ve already worn on a long training run. DON’T wear anything new on marathon day, unless you want to have a graphic chafing story to tell your family about afterwards.
Gain a few—but not a lot: Since you are running less, pay close attention to your diet. It’s normal to gain a few pounds as your muscles stockpile the glycogen they will need during the race. But gaining more than five pounds will make you feel heavy and sluggish. Eat a bit less than usual, with well-balanced meals, and don’t start any fad diets.Remember, carbo loading doesn’t mean overloading. The night before the race, just eat a regular sized meal with a higher percentage of carbohydrates than usual. On race morning, eat a small portion of a bagel, banana, or oatmeal to top off your tank—but don’t load your stomach to the brim. Twenty-six miles is a long way to run with a stomach cramp.
- Wake up early: If you’re not accustomed to running in the morning, try a couple of morning runs, so your body gets a taste of exercising at that time of day. Marathon start times are frequently at 7 a.m.—and if you’ve never run at that hour, it can be a bit of a shock. You might as well get it over with prior to race morning.
- Eliminate extra activities: If you do any cross training activities, don’t do them during race week. Don’t do any unusual activities that might cause muscle soreness afterwards. This isn’t the time to catch up on housework or repair projects. If you have extra time on your hands, just get more rest or take a nap instead.
- Cut your toe nails: Do it five or six days before the race. Trust me on this one.
- Be paranoid: It’s fairly common for runners to get minor illnesses while tapering, so stay away from sick people. Wash your hands after touching anybody.
- Visualize success: The mental side of marathon running is extremely important. Beginning today, picture yourself running relaxed and strong, and having a great race. Repeat this scenario each day. Be confident in your ability to succeed!
- Enjoy yourself: Yes, you should take the precautions above, but don’t get so overwhelmed with worry that you forget to enjoy the experience. Think of how far you’ve come in your training, and resolve to have a great time on race day.