Tapering is the process by which runners slowly reduce their mileage and the intensity of their training prior to a race – allowing muscles to recover, rest and reach peak performance. Today I’m offering some tips on surviving taper week.
Surviving Taper Week
First I want to share my last training update. I went to yoga classes twice this week. I am running twice this week and my final run – 2 miles – is today. Traditionally my last run before a Saturday race is on Wednesday.
Then I use Thursday and Friday as rest days. It’s crazy for me to think that just a few months ago, in February, I was only running one mile at a time. My longest training run was 4.5 miles last Saturday.
I prefer to have a great final long run but this wasn’t it. It was actually warm that day and I ended up with chafing under my armpit. I also had to walk a few times and my left IT band was hurting.
I’m hoping the next two days of rest will be just what I need going into Saturday’s race. While I have no scheduled workouts on those days, I do plan on going for a few casual walks and doing some gentle stretching at home. All times are recorded by my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch.
2.5 miles / 12:11, 12:14, 5:56
2 miles / 11:43, 11:26
3.5 miles / 11:38, 11:48, 11:33, 5:36
2.5 miles / 11:25, 11:41, 6:15
2 miles / 11:47, 11:47
4 miles / 12:42, 13:16, 12:56, 13:00 –> really hot and humid
3 miles / 11:56, 11:55, 11:55
2 miles / 11:48, 11:35
4 miles / 11:19 to 11:45 average pace –> at a hotel, my only treadmill run
3 miles / 11:43, 13:03, 11:42
2 miles / 12:30, 12:53
4.5 miles / 11:49, 12:12, 11:47, 11:50, 5:42
3 miles / 12:19, 12:39, 13:28
2 miles / 12:28, 12:07
Surviving Taper Week
What else can you do during taper week? Here are a few practical tips and tactics for surviving taper week.
• Complete all scheduled workouts and finish your training cycle strong. Then enjoy the rest days. Use this extra time in your schedule to pursue hobbies, cooking or spending time with family or friends. Training takes a lot of time – enjoy the break!
• Make drinking enough water a top priority and stay hydrated in the days leading up to race day. I use this glass water bottle. The days leading up to race day are also not the time to try new or out-of-the box foods. Keep your diet simple and fuel your body with whole foods.
• Pay attention to the forecast as it’s vital to knowing what to wear on race day. For a race like the Cleveland Marathon it could be 90 degrees and blazing sun or freezing with sleet – both have happened on race day. Right now, the race day forecast for Saturday is looking great!
• Do the laundry and have your race day outfit washed and ready to go. Also lay out any race day accessories and essentials during this time such as a running watch or GPS watch, Road ID, running visor, Body Glide and energy gels such as GU or GU Roctane.
• Review the course map, bib pickup information and any other event guidelines prior to race day. At a large running event, such as the Cleveland Marathon, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately the race organizers publish a Runner’s Agenda prior to the race including all of this information.
• Plan what your workouts and running schedule will look like after race day. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a big race. I’ve personally experienced that, and the loss of exercise direction, that can come after.
• Plan your post-race celebration and reward. Whether your training plan was five weeks or three months – it takes patience and dedication to complete those workouts. Many runners will celebrate by going out to dinner, or grilling, or drinking their favorite beverage, after they race. Next Monday I have a special treat planned for myself – a massage!
Final Tips Surviving Taper Week
My goal finish time for the 8K remains under one hour, but in the end, simply completing my first road race in three years – and first road race since having a baby – will make me happy. No matter the outcome on Saturday, I truly feel that I am a stronger runner today than where I stood a year ago at this time.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23
I wear a bracelet with this scripture on it, and my Road ID has the same. Once again I’ll use it as my race day inspiration and motivation. I can’t wait to bring home another finisher’s medal.
Disclosure: As a 2017 Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, I will receive complimentary entry into the race of my choice, an ambassador shirt, along with special access to pre and post-race events, in exchange for writing about my training for this event.
*This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.