Monday, September 27, 2010

Time To Taper

If you're running a fall marathon like me, most likely your long runs are now behind you and it's time to taper! Tapering is both an exciting and scary concept for most runners. By decreasing your mileage you are letting your body rest and recover before the big day, but at times it can feel like you aren't doing enough. But tapering is a tried and true part of training that I urge you to incorporate prior to your race.

First of all, what is a taper? This is the period in training when weekly and long run mileage is reduced, usually 2-3 weeks before the race. If you are already following a training plan, like Hal Higdon's this should be incorporated in the plan. If you would like to check out some more tapering schedules, check out this link.

So while reducing mileage may seem easy, often times runner develop not only a physical addiction to running, but also a psychological need to iron out any life kinks on the road. Without those long runs, it is important that you find other ways to occupy your time. Surround yourself by those who love and support you, take the time to watch a new movie, and enjoy some of your other hobbies. Don't let Taper Madness grab hold of you, race day will come, and your training will shine through. Research has shown that those who taper properly perform better than those who train right up until race day.

  • Runner's World suggests sticking to your training log. No matter how short and easy your runs get during the taper, keep recording your workouts in your log to reinforce the feeling that you are studiously sticking to the plan.
  • Listen to your body. Last minute workouts the week of the marathon are not going to improve your time. Trust your previous training and if you are feeling either physically or mentally tired or your leg muscles are fatigued, give them rest.
  • Make Sure you are stretching! Check out these great stretches for runners
  • Keep your nutrition at it's peak! In the week before the race, gradually increase your carbohydrate intake. Chose high quality, nutritious foods to fuel your race-day. This article has some great nutrition tips for the week before the big day!
  • Keep Drinking! Make sure you are hydrate well the week before the marathon and in particular, during the carbohydrate loading period.
  • Don't fret over weight gain! If your weight fluctuates a few pounds, don't panic. Because of reduced activity, and increased hydration, this is mostly water weight! I assure you it will disappear immediately post-race.
  • If you are traveling to your race, make sure to pack some of your favorite foods, and foods that you are used to using on your training runs. If you have been using a specific source of carbohydrates during your long runs, now is not the time to switch it up! Save yourself some headaches (and tummyaches!) by planning ahead and packing what you'll need!
  • Catch your ZZZZZs! Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep the week prior to the marathon.

Need more guidence? Marathon has a great Race Countdown and Marathon Strategy section for additional information about final preparations before the race.

By listening to your body and giving it time to rest and recovery, you'll be more than ready when the starting gun goes off! Best of luck in your race!

Let's here from my runner readers! Have any tips for other racers? What do you do before a race? Any superstitions or lasting traditions? What fall races are you running? Most importantly, do you have any chicago tips/sights/eats for me?? It's my first time visiting!

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