(With Grandma’s Marathon this weekend, I thought it was a good idea to re-visit an older post about the taper!)
The taper: that magical place when you sit back and enjoy all this extra free time and relish in all your hard work over the past 18 weeks…
You’re probably thinking, “Magical? No way. The taper sucks!”
Why does the taper suck?
You start second guessing all of your training.
You worry about the race.
Your body feels sluggish.
You feel lazy.
You feel like you should be doing more.
You catch a cold.
Your muscles ache.
You feel heavy.
You are a little heavy- you gained a pound or two.
Sound magical to you?
But the taper is a very important part of your marathon training.
To clarify, the “taper” refers to the weeks before a key race where you cut back your mileage and intensity and let your muscles repair. Your body recovers from all the hard work you have been putting it through during training. You focus on replenishing all your glycogen stores in preparation for race day. The general recommended taper for a marathon is 3 weeks, though some people do a 2-week taper. (My coach is a fan of the 2-week taper; he says 10 days is the perfect amount of time.)
Since we all agree that the taper can be tough especially mentally, I put together a few tips to help make the taper a little less “sucky” and maybe a little more “magical.”
Yes, you should replenish your glycogen stores and carbo-load, but don’t go crazy. Keep it simple, keep it light, keep it easy to digest. Eat what you know works for you, nothing new.
(Punch Pizza FTW! Though I usually cut out the extra greens/fiber race week and stick to simple carbs)
Stick to the Plan:
Don’t use the free time during the taper to do other workouts. This is not the time to try out a [solidcore] class; save that for after the race.
Now is also not the time to make up for lost time or missed workouts. Don’t try to cram in extra runs or miles. They will only hurt you at this point. Trust the process.
Don’t stress about every ache or pain:
Most of those phantom pains are part of the rejuvenation process that the is going through during the taper. Try to think of this as a good sign, rather than a pesky problem or cause for alarm. Your body is getting stronger during this healing process.
Stay hydrated- water, Gatorade, NUUN, whatever works for you.
Finalize Your Race Day Outfit:
Make a checklist for race day. Re-read this post for managing race morning. Finalize your race outfit, but don’t forget- nothing new!
Review your training log and pick out a few key runs where you felt strong. Focus on THOSE runs and how great you felt!
Stay Away From Germs:
Become a little bit of a hypochondriac. There’s nothing wrong with Purell, Airborne or whatever other preventive measures you take to ensure you don’t get a cold.
Stay busy, not with extra cross training or running, but with other activities. Plan out your fun post-race celebration. Grab a coffee with a friend, pick up a new book. Do some online shopping. Keep your mind off running a bit.
It’s so important to ensure you’re sleeping well this week. You’ll probably be nervous the night before the race, so focus on going into race weekend well-rested.
You got this.
Looking for last minute Grandma’s insight or advice? Check out these posts: