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 

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