I’m so psyched that I’ve made it this far. Never have I been so consistent with my training for a marathon, seen more improvement and had more good feelings for my race future. My mileage got pretty high in the end (about 50 miles for my last big week push) and I’m looking forward to a satisfying taper. Here’s hoping it doesn’t chew me up and spit me out. Referring to the mental drop that may coincide with the physical mileage, not the daemonic clown. I hear tapering can be rough. But there’s a light at the end of the.. trail! See what I did there? (photo tie-in).
I was a little worried about it so I looked into how much one should taper and spent some time tailoring what I learned to my training schedule. Here’s a little breakdown that’s working for me. I decided a 20-25% drop in overall mileage would be a good place to start with my first taper week (2 weeks from race day). I have a couple small soft tissue aches that may encourage me to take off closer to 25%. A slight Achilles tightness, my slight nagging foot tenderness. I’m not worried though because in almost all I read, the gist was that you can’t taper too much, but you definitely can taper too little. In other words, less miles=better. Especially when facing injury. I also read that you might benefit from a taper that begins 3 weeks form race day, but I didn’t look this up until 2 weeks before and I wouldn’t have had time for that in my training anyways if I wanted to fit a 20-miler in, which I’m happy about.
So for 2 weeks out from the race:
I plan to keep my weekly schedule relatively consistent. Do the same types of workouts, but lessen the intensity and duration. For my Saturday’s long run I did 14 miles. This is on the longer end (most sources say 10-12 with my mileage where it was), but I felt good. None of my pain spots acted up and I had good energy levels. For my weekly speed work, I plan to do 1 mile warm-up and cool-downs with 3-4 miles at my goal marathon race pace (8:30 min/mile). This is about 1 min/mile slower than what my weekly speed work was at previously. I’m particularly excited about this because it will feel like what I’m racing at, which should feel easy in comparison to previous speed work! I usually do 2 speed workouts/week and plan to continue this-with restrictions. The rest of the midweek runs will be easier and shorter than normal.
1 week out from race day:
My long run on Saturday will be no more than 8 miles, but plan to stay near the house if I feel tired at all so I can bail early if needed. I plan to do 1 short “speed work” run the Tuesday before Saturday’s race. That will be to feel race pace again, but it will be very short. Similar to last week’s but shorter. Wednesday-easy bike. Thursday I may simply take off to rest or easy 3-miler. And the final Friday before race day… easiest 3 miler of them all! Leaving only… drum roll please… Saturday-RACE DAY!!!
Nutrition during taper:
It’s super important to keep your calories up, even though you’re running less. For the first week of taper-I’m focusing on plenty of protein sources to help my muscles recover from the high mileage tax I put on them the last few weeks. (40-50miles/week.). For the second week of taper-I’m focusing on still more protein the first half of the week and lower carbohydrate intake. Dropping from 60% of my calories from carbs to 50%. Not a huge drop, but protein should make up the difference in the calories. This way, during the last few days when I do take in more carbs (70% of calories from complex carbs) I’ll maximize my glycogen stores. I’m not packing in the sugary crap just because, but still focusing on the complex carbs. Though putting on a pound or 2 might not be the end of the world, 5 (and the inflammation that I feel sugar causes to my body, inhibiting recovery) would definitely not be in my favor. So, even though sugar can do the trick, just trying to be smart because there are better options. Same with high fat foods. I want to leave space for more carbohydrates to get as much glycogen as I can. Hydration is of course super important, as always, but especially in these leading weeks before the race. No need to over-hydrate, but keeping your urine consistently clear/pale yellow is the goal here.
And not that I don’t love ending on that note.. 😳 lol but I don’t have much else to add! Ha! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other-even if you’re starting to feel the effects of decreased mileage from your taper!
QOTD-for those of you with marathons coming up, what are the most important aspects of “the taper” for you?