The Truth About Tapering 

The last two weeks before a marathon or race is when you over analyze everything. Literally everything. I shouldn’t have skipped that workout three months ago, I should have run faster, I should have run longer, I should have done more core, cross trained more. I should have, I should have, I should have. 

Although we all fall into this trap and way of thinking, especially when we have more time on our hands with less running, we have to be strong. The two weeks leading up to a race is when I start using my mantras, building my confidence and making sure I believe in myself. It’s the time to visualize everything and anything that could happen in the race and how you would handle it in a way where you still succeed. I go to bed thinking about the race, dreaming about the race and wake up excited and nervous for the race. It’s good to be a little nervous! 

When you are tapering it is also not the time to overdo it. When I taper I am not afraid to cut my workouts short. Any other week I wouldn’t want to or I would try to make the mileage up somewhere else. However if I feel tired and my legs feel like bricks while tapering I need to cut back more because I need to be well rested come race day. Two weeks before the race is when you have to train smart. Although you want to nail every workout for the confidence boost, it may not be the place. For example today I had a 9 mile tempo with 1 mile at 6:55, 4 miles at 7:15 and 1 mile fast, but it was 80 degrees and real feel of 90 so after three tempo miles I could feel myself fading. I knew if I pushed through I would probably be sick from the heat. I knew it would also probably hurt some of my other workouts this week, so when I saw my friends I called it quits. It wasn’t worth it. Tapering is the time to listen to your body. You know what’s best! Only you know how you feel!

Normally whatever workouts my coach gives me I do. When it comes to the two weeks leading up to the race that isn’t always the case. Someone can taper anywhere from 1-3 weeks, you really have to find where you fall and what works for you. So if I run the mileage two weeks out and feel sluggish and like I am crawling, it’s up to me to know I need to take a step back and communicate that. Maybe I need to cut more mileage, maybe next time I need a three week taper? It’s trial and error and being in tune with yourself and what your body needs. You want to be on your A game come race day and the hay is already in the barn, so now it’s about maintaining fitness, recovering, resting and mentally preparing. 

Taper Don’ts:

  • Overdo it – run faster than you should or longer than you should 
  • Cut out all intensity or hard workouts
  • Try new workouts 
  • Try new foods 
  • Doubt yourself and your training 
  • Lose sleep 

Taper Do’s:

  • Listen to your body 
  • Come up with race day mantras and start using them 
  • Build up your confidence 
  • Visualize race day 
  • Sleep!!!
  • Rest and relax 
  • Cut workouts short if you need it 
  • Keep variety of running workouts but cut mileage and reps 
  • Hydrate!! 
  • Look back on all the hard training you have done 

Bottomline Race for a Cause 5k Recap 

I don’t run a lot of 5k’s but now I am left thinking maybe I should! 

This race is 4 years in the running and each year it gets better and better. My work puts it on which makes me more nervous because everyone I work with knows I run, so I put an absurd amount of pressure on myself. Saturday was no different. It’s also odd showing up at work on a Saturday, couldn’t get over that one either. 

Anyway, I got there about 8:20 and it was starting around 9:00. Start lines always freak me out! I have to get better about staying within myself and not letting other people intimidate me based on their warmups, etc. I found my running buddy Kailey and we did a quick mile warm up before the start. There were also people leading stretches and warm ups which was a cool addition this year! 

The start is in the street outside my work and before I knew it we were walking over. All night I thought about how I don’t know how to race 5k’s and I woke up feeling sick. I think I was making myself sick with stress. I told myself when I woke up that it was just a race, it doesn’t matter where I place or how I do because Chicago is my goal race. Chicago is everything I have been training for. Except then as we were on the start line and I lined up in the front another running friend Kim gave me better advice, she said just run. It doesn’t matter if it’s a PR just run. I like that, just run, just run, I started repeating it to myself. 

The horn sounded and we were off. I went out fast and then tried to reign it in a bit because the first part of the course is slightly uphill. I only glanced down at my watch a few times to see the pace but didn’t check any of my mile splits. I raced like I used to back in high school, by feel and by effort, just running. It was awesome, I felt strong and comfortable despite the 100% humidity! 

After mile one I felt I was going a little fast and wasn’t sure I could maintain it so I let the hill slow me down a bit for mile two. At mile two I knew there was a girl behind me comfortable following me. I also knew if I kept this pace up she would definitely pass me. I asked myself how bad I wanted it, how much more did I want to push or could I push? Then I just tried to catch the guys in front of me. There were about four. I passed two right away and the other two were farther in the distance. I focused on my breathing and holding on. 

Once I reached the corner I would go. I kept telling myself that. Hold strong now but don’t go full out yet. I reached the corner and I tried to kick it in. I had no idea if the girl was still on my tail. I heard people cheering for what sounded like “lauren” and I ran faster. I looked at the clock and saw 19:xx and ran harder through the finish. I crossed the line first female and third overall! 

I looked back and didn’t see a girl right away, she must have been 20 seconds or so behind me. Turns out the second place male’s name was “Loren”, but hey the cheering made me run faster so I should thank him! Official time was 19:07, even though I had the course a bit short, it would have been a PR regardless. I ran 20:30 on this course last year! 

The second I stopped running I felt like I had gone swimming, I was soaked! Happy but soaked. I stayed at the finish and cheered on my friends and colleagues. It was a PR for a lot of my friends! I won an amazon echo for coming in first! I also gave away some free months of Coaching for some of the top age group placers. 

Overall it was a great race and a great day. I left wondering if I should run more 5k’s and switch to shorter distances post Boston Marathon and I think that is definitely what I will do. I love the marathon but I also want to work on my speed again, now that I had a taste for what I fell in love with in high school track again 🙂 

Run for You 

We are runners. We run different distances and different ways. We all have different reasons to run. We want a personal best, we want to destress, we want to lose weight, we want the social aspect of running. The list goes on but what keeps you running? What are you running for? What sets your soul on fire? 

In this day and age running is very different because of social media and technology. Everything is about pace and distance and splits. Everything you could want to analyze from your run is at your fingertips. That is why It is more important these days that you remind yourself why YOU run. Not why somebody else runs, why do you? What gets you out of bed each morning? What motivates you to lace up your sneakers? Remind yourself what your goals are and stay within yourself. These days It is easier than ever to fall into the comparison trap, To analyze someone else’s life or running success by their Instagram feed. 

However, I am not against social media, but remind yourself that we all have different things that motivate us, different goals and different ways of getting there.  It also isn’t just social media, it’s all the data too. I work in an area where data is really important so I love that people are obsessed with it in regards to running but are we going too far? When was the last time you ran just to run? As in you laced up your shoes, picked your favorite route and maybe your favorite buddy and just went. Just ran. Nothing dictated your pace except how you felt. You can’t watch the seconds tick by or your pace change, you just run to feel alive. You run to feel the breeze and fresh air or you run to get to your favorite park. We all need to do that more often. Just run. A missed split shouldn’t ruin a whole run, you ran and that’s awesome! Although, I am guilty of this as well. 

Social media can also be a very encouraging place. I find that everyone is so supportive and kind. They want to see you succeed. Everyone inspires each other. Yes you can easily fall into a comparison trap but I believe it’s up to you to get out of that one. You have to stay true to your goals and your path and not all of a sudden want someone else’s. It’s tough but no one ever said life was easy. Goals are hard, life is hard. It took me two years to get to Boston. Two years of hard work. Two years of ups and downs, failures and successes, but I wouldn’t trade my journey for anyone else’s. it’s mine and I learned a hell of a lot along the way. 

So here’s to staying true to you, running with the wind, and reminding yourself why you fell in love with running from the beginning! With all three I don’t think anything can stop you!