You could say racing is on my mind these days. Yes, we are in the height of fall racing season. With Chicago, Twin Cities, and Columbus just past and Marine Corps, Indy Monumental, and NYCM on the horizon, it seems like everyone has racing on the brain.
So today let’s talk taper. Some people handle taper really well and taper doesn’t change life too much. Others find themselves pining to go for a run on days when they shouldn’t. I’ve put together this handy dandy guide to help you survive taper before a big race.
How to Survive Taper (and Live to Tell About It)
1. Trust the training.
You’ve worked so hard for so many weeks. There’s nothing you can jam in right this instant that will help you or improve your pace, form, or strategy. The work is done and now is the time to rest and heal your body. Speaking of resting and healing…
2. You may feel like you’ve been hit by a truck during taper.
It’s true. I just had this conversation with my chiropractor, in fact. I asked him about the science behind it and apparently when our bodies are healing from all the wear and tear we’ve put on them over the prior 16+ weeks of training, when we finally get to rest and recover, our bodies work so hard to heal the wounds and fix the aches and pains that we can end up feeling like we have the flu. Which explains…
3. The aches and pains are phantom!
Do not believe those aches and pains for one second! Unless of course they are legit aches and pains such as when I was attacked by my IT band back in spring of 2015. That was totally not fun. Not even a little bit. You’ll know if something’s really wrong. And if it’s not really wrong, it’s farce. You are not in pain. Your body is healing.
4. As much as you may feel like you have more energy than before, don’t go doing something foolish.
Horseback riding, hiking or trail running on a technical trail when you’re training for a road race, rollerskating or skateboarding — these are all things one should not do with all the extra energy garnered through taper. Instead, use this time to get your ducks in a row. If you’re traveling for a race, make a list and start packing your bag. If you’re not traveling, maybe spend a few extra minutes a day reading or catching up on your favorite shows. Key word during taper: chill.
5. Don’t eat all the food.
Seriously, don’t. If you eat all the food and don’t burn it all off, you’ll end up bloated and possibly retaining more water than you intend to on race day. (Water is good, just not the way it stays in your body when you eat too much.) Remember my posts about carb-loading and fat adaptive running? Maybe reread those if you end up standing in front of the ‘fridge, craving all the carbs.
6. When in doubt, call your coach or ask your friends.
I’m totally 100% guilty of this. During training, I’m confident and don’t really think twice about the fuel I’m bringing or what I’m wearing. Okay that’s only partially true because in winter I question everything. But come race day, I start questioning everything. Not necessarily my training but my apparel choices, hydration needs, and even fueling. Such questions usually include: will I be too hot? will I be too cold? should I run with hydration? how much fuel do I need? If you find yourself asking ridiculous questions and you can’t answer them yourself, ask your coach or your friends you’ve been training with. Chances are both parties will be able to help you make a logical decision based on your training and prior conversations with each of these individuals. I know I’ve already been asking my coach and friends all sorts of ridiculous things that I already know the answer to but can’t, for the life of me, make sense of pre-race.
Keep your head on straight during taper even if it seems like a feat in and of itself. If you stay the course, trust the training, and keep your eyes on the prize, I guarantee you’ll survive taper and live to tell about it.
And now for the Running Coaches’ Corner! Join Lora Marie, Susie, Debbie, and myself for the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup every Wednesday. We love reading your running stories, racing tips, and coaching strategies. Scroll to the bottom of this post to add your link!
TALK TO ME!
What’s one thing you do to keep the taper crazies at bay?
What’s the biggest marathon/half marathon you’ve run?