Here we are… 12 days away from the Boston Marathon.
Hold my kombucha while I jump up and down and twirl in circles and check the weather 47 times every two hours. IT IS TIME TO TAPER!!
What do you know about the taper?
Runners have a love-hate relationship with the taper. Tapering is when you take the last 2-3 weeks before race day to gradually decrease mileage and strength training. It’s the final chance to allow your muscles to repair, rest and recover before the big show. Also a great time to increase sleep, water intake and healthy habits (i.e. limit alcohol and sugar).
The taper comes with challenges.
I usually gain a little weight during this time because my metabolism is still cranking away like I’m running 40-50 miles a week, but I’m not. So I’m still cleaning every single plate (mine and yours) while not burning as many calories. Easy way to gain a few lbs. This time around, I’m trying to be more mindful of my eating habits. Eat when I’m actually hungry and stop when I feel full.
Easier said than done.
The mental game presents its own set of challenges during the taper. Am I fit enough? Am I losing fitness? Is my endurance gone? Am I gaining weight? Why does my knee hurt?
Yes, you are fit enough. No, you’re not losing fitness or endurance. You might gain a little weight, but it’s mainly water weight, and no your knee doesn’t hurt – stop having phantom pains. YOU ARE FINE!
**Trust the process**
What to do during taper.
- Keep calm. Look, you’ve been training for how many weeks? You are ready! As Coach Allen reminds me, “you won’t gain fitness at this point and you won’t lose fitness either.”
- Taper does not mean “slow,” it means “gradually cut back.” Aim for fewer, shorter runs and little to no strength workouts (no strength in the final week). You don’t have to run slower during these runs, just less miles.
- Go to bed earlier. This is my biggest challenge. I’m working on it.
- Drink plenty of water. Don’t drown yourself, just stay hydrated. It helps to cut back or cut out alcohol and/or sodas. I can’t give up coffee, but I’m limiting myself to 1-2 cups in the morning and water the rest of the day.
- See the professionals. I call this the “tune up.” Maybe a little extra foam rolling is all you need. Me? I need my usual tune up with the chiropractor before race day. Tomorrow and next Thursday, I’m going to Greenapple Sports & Wellness for an adjustment and to make sure all the muscles are firing. I’m also hoping to get a sports massage (not the feel good kind) before I take off next Friday. Drink extra water after these sessions!
Make a taper plan.
My last piece of advice is to make a plan (always). Below is my 2 week taper with notes for your convenience. Remember, every runner is different. This is not a set-in-stone plan. It’s just what works for me. You do you.
Helen’s Boston Taper:
Remember that runs during the taper don’t always feel comfortable or smooth. Don’t worry. Trust your training. Let your body receive the rest it deserves before race day.
If you are running Boston, if you are training for a race, if you’re thinking about training for a race, shoot, if you woke up this morning, took a breath and got out of bed — I am proud of you. Keep going!
See you out there, but not for long — I’m tapering.