While tapering is like the shiny beacon of relief and sunshine at the end of serious marathon training, it can also prove to be literally the toughest and most difficult thing to do. For me tapering is much needed but dreaded because I am always sort of lost during tapering weeks. Running is such a huge part of my life that without my weekly 22+ miler on a saturday what do I do!!!! Also the mind plays tricks on you, you end up watching every calorie going in and how its used, when usually its the other way around am I eating ENOUGH to fuel and run the milage I’m running. So tapering is great in its definition: carbs, rest, reduced milage…but also for me anyway it can also suck!!! So why don’t we love it as much as we should!!!!
Allowing the body to taper can be alot harder than the long runs!!Trust me I know that one final hoorah long run a week before my race will nooootttttttt make any difference its the base training, consistency and dedication in the months before that will get you to the finish line. Instead that last hoorrah could seriously harm you ability to have a good race…SO DON’T DO IT! You will be tempted….you will play it over in your mind and “will I wont I” and hopefully you will have someone there to say to you..don’t go for that run and they will occupy you with something else. Its not worth it…honestly. It could end up jeopardizing all the hard work you have put in already 🙂
Use the spare time time to catch up with your partner or friends or family who end up somewhat taking a back seat when your seriously training, you don’t need to allocate 50 hours to run in the last 2-3 weeks so do something different..enjoy.
DON’T take up a new sport and start using other muscles, if you usually do yoga take a class or pilates. But take it easy on other types of cardio, swimming etc as your body is no trained and ready to go. You don’t want to strain anything.
Watch what you eat…you will be hungry, its a strange one your doing less endurance but I still manage to be hungrier than If I were!!!So be careful, consume as you normally would and don’t have the mentality of, oh I am gona run a huge race so lets eat burgers and chips each day-it balances out! It doesn’t!!
Its not the calories or anything, its just you need to feed your body with decent carbs and food and you will perform better by fueling with good carbs and healthy food. So keep an eye on your diet and hydrate well leading up to the race. Its a given but no alcohol 😦
And here we come to the exact term: In the wait before the race you fret, you obsess, you hallucinate and hyperventilate. That’s right, you’ve got “Taper Madness!”
You will find yourself perhaps bored and tempted to hit the trails for a long one just to clear your head. If you must and any experienced runner will tell ya sometimes you just break, head for a short run (mainly to quite your head, it wont make any difference to your body but it will quite the nagging in your head!!) and take the run waaaaayyy slower than race day pace. Just enjoy.
And finally know that your not alone!!I am in the middle of my taper madness as we speak and while I am still running, obviously shorter distances etc I am sitting contemplating heading to the gym to cross train even though I ran this morning!!!or should I venture to black friday sales to keep from training…now I def have taper madness if I am contemplating that!!!;)
Just be wise, listen to your body and know that if you have genuinely put in the work you have no worries.
Enjoy your taper week or two, for what it is. Let IT do what ITS supposed to do..SO on race day YOU can do what YOUR supposed to do.
happy safe holiday running.