It’s that time again… to sit back, relax, let the training set in, and the body rest up before the big race day. While I know the taper is super important to performing well on race day, I can’t help but think that I haven’t trained enough to deserve to taper! My cycling season went long. I took 10 days in France just a month before my marathon to ride my bike in the alps. Sure, that helps my overall fitness, but as far as training for this marathon… well… I failed.
2016 Columbus Marathon Training Snap Shot:
Started Marathon Training: August
Longest Week: 57 miles
Longest Training Run: 26.6 miles
Average Weekly Mileage: 35
At this time last year, the temps were much (MUCH) lower and I had stopped cycling almost a full month earlier to begin my marathon training. I was running a pretty consistent 60mi week, hitting faster paces and weighed a few pounds less. So how am I expecting to do this year at the Columbus Marathon? Well I’m not really sure! Of course I want a PR, who doesn’t shoot for that!? But at this point it feels like that is uber unrealistic. Still, I’m on the elite roster this year and I will toe that start line with all the seriousness and motivation I can muster up to run my best. I’ll put it all out there and cross that finish line knowing that I tried.
So back to the taper.
For some reason it is easier for us athletes to put in the effort of logging hard, sweaty workouts than the actually sit back and relax. Call us crazy. The taper has this effect. Without the daily runs, there are more hours in the day to question everything ‘WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS?!?’ and doubt our training efforts ‘I’M NOT READY!’.
I am a big fan of the 10 day taper, meaning my last real day of training will be 10 days out from the race and all training after that will be drastically reduced.
· Rest – This is the point of the taper.
o Take more days completely off.
o Spend time doing a different (not taxing) task like writing a blog, knitting, cleaning or reading.
· Running – The taper isn’t completely void of training.
o Aim to reduce mileage by 50-75%.
o Keep a similar intensity and frequency, reduce the volume.
· Recovery – This is time to keep your body strong, stress and injury free.
o Focus on massage, foam rolling, icing, and stretching.
· Hydration – Do not go into race day dehydrated.
o Drink more water, enhanced with electrolytes throughout the day.
o Check your urine for a light, pale yellow color.
· Mental – This can be the toughest part of taper. Goal number 1 is not to drive yourself crazy with self doubt and over analysis.
o Stay focused by practicing visualization.
o Create a race playlist to stay motivated.
o Spend more time reading up on all things running related.
o Practice stress relief techniques.
· Diet – Strive for balance! Stop eating like you’re running high mileage weeks, but don’t starve your body.
o Cut out all alcohol. Lame, but it will help you feel more energized and reduce unhelpful caloric intake.
o Cut out extra treats + snacks.
o Quit the sport food (shouldn’t need much extra fueling on a reduced training taper).
o Eat clean for the first part of the taper. Focus on simple, whole foods and complex carbohydrates).
o Maintain macronutrient balance for the first week.
o Increase easy to digest carbohydrates 2 days prior to the race.
o Decrease fiber intake 2 days out. This will easy digestion before race day.
o Many consume a large pre-race dinner, but this can weigh you down, create a stressed gut, and decrease sleep quality. Instead, eat early and often the day before the race.
o Focus on the post race meal! #treatyoself
· Weight – Its tough not to jump on the scale, but honestly these 10 days aren’t the time to obsess about your weight.
o Aim to stay the same weight from the start to race day.
o Taper isn’t the time to try to lose weight.
o Gaining a pound or two is normal due to extra carbs and water.