Tapering- Friend or Foe?

Every runner is different, from shoes to pace, nutrition, and training plans.  But almost all marathoners know the importance of tapering before race day.  Whether we hate it or love it, it’s a part of our sport that we just accept and adhere to.

Since I’ve become a runner, my relationship with tapering has become more and more ugly.  My first marathon I welcomed the rest and though I was really nervous, I was thankful for a break before the big day.  I used the time to catch up with friends, do some light cross-training, and focus on school.  On the weekend of my first full marathon, my best friend Katie went to Sports Basement to put together a “Good Luck Goodie Basket” for me.  She asked their staff for all things running, loaded it up with GU, Joint Juice, Magazines, the works.  As a sidenote- she still makes these for me for every marathon, I’m sure she’s got to be getting sick of it, but it mentally prepares me for Race Day. Anyhow, the guy at checkout insisted that she direct me to tapermadness.org– asking if I’d gotten stir crazy.

I checked it out,  and I have to say, you all should too.  It’s amazing to me how difficult it can be to NOT run, to just relax and chill out.

About a year later, I ran my 2nd marathon.  My sister was in town, so we spent a ton of time sight-seeing, eating, pedicure-ing, etc.  I have to say that was a perfect way to stop my crazy “what if’s” out of my mind, but they were definitely stronger than the first.  In preparation for my 3rd, 4th, and 5th marathons, the insanity worsened, I obsessed, stayed up late researching running tips, training tips, other races, shoes, anything on the internet.  Most recently I found myself organizing my sock drawer for the first time in my life, vacuuming, cleaning out the refrigerator, you name it.

I’ve heard mixed reviews from all of our twitter friends

“the taper is the worst part of training!”
“I enjoy nice and easy runs prior to the race”
“I typically hate tapering but will not be hating it this time- I have a plan”
“Right now I LOVE tapering, in about a week, not so much”

But this I know- you SHOULD taper, for at least 2 weeks before the race.  Cut back on mileage, reduce speed training and really intense workouts, and let your body recover.  Use the time to do something you’ve missed while you’ve been training so hard: read a book, go to the movies, SLEEP, whatever it takes.  Your body will thank you when you power through the finish line in 2 weeks…

And for those of you who have figured it out- PLEASE share the secret to a happy taper, I could really use the help!


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