Well for me it is that time of year again—taper time. I have often said tapering is my least favourite part of the training cycle. You are in such a groove with training, and you are rocking it and then— someone takes it away from you!! Seems just so cruel. I get to a point in my training where I feel best when I feel fatigued and so this sudden feeling of being more rested feels so foreign to me. Then on top of all of this you are left with the constant internal battle of: should I run or should I rest (*the answer is usually REST). The work is done.
This training cycle has been the first time I was very much looking forward to the taper. I was really, really tired in the last couple of weeks of training. Training is funny we like to think of it as week to week, and I definitely am guilty of that. BUT a training cycle is an accumulation of training. It is the build up of hard week upon hard week. So near the end of it you are going to be TIRED. Which is fine—that is where the taper comes in. This is the time to ‘fill your tank’ as my coach Megan Brown likes to say. You should be chomping at the bit by the end of the taper and that is when you RACE. Easy said… sometimes harder to do.
The hard thing with the marathon I find is that when you start out feeling so good it is hard to not go out too fast in the race. This can be a killer to your goal—trust me I have tried it time and time again. It is not worth it. Stick to your race plan no matter what it is.
So since you suddenly have all of this down time what should you be doing with it in order to have the most benefit to the outcome, the race. Try not to over book your new found free time. It is nice as a distraction, but it can overload the system a bit too much. Again, trust me as I have tested it haha—who schedules a talk at 7am and 7pm on the same day both outside of the city during their taper??? This girl does.
Here are some thoughts on things you can use your free time on to have a positive impact on your race.
First one is sleep. Get lots of it. I know over the course of my taper this time around I have been so tired. So I have taken full advantage of being able to sleep in on the weekends instead of having to be up early to get my long run in. Along with this is to allow yourself to have some much needed down time. You have been working hard and if you are anything like me likely burning the candle at both ends when it comes to training, work, personal life etc. so be sure to give yourself some chill out time. Now is the time to binge watch Netflix.
Work on your mobility. The better you are moving the better you are going to perform. So that extra 20mins you would normally be running—spend it working on mobility. Check out The Runner’s Academy YouTube page for some great runner movement flows: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmaQ4Bz7nFgGHF3OuxhqAeQ/videos
Keep eating normal—as a distance runner we like to think in absolute calorie in vs calorie out. So when we suddenly stop running as much we assume we should therefore stop eating as much. WRONG remember we are trying to fill the tank not leave it half empty. While training a lot of the time we are left in calorie deficit and so now is the time when the body can really prime it self to be ready to perform by getting the appropriate amount of fuel. Trust me I have the same wars in my head as well. But I often find in the taper I do tend to slim down ever so slightly— it is like the body knows exactly what it is doing. *crazy— if only we (*I) trusted it a bit more.
Work on your positive mindset. This is key—the race is going to get tough. You do not train so the race is easy—you train so you are tough enough to fight through when it gets hard. So you want to make sure you have some positive mantras to use when things do get rough. You can even look back at your training log to see all the hard work you have put in.
Get a nice tune up. I know for me personally I will be seeing my RMT Mark Dones and chiro Dr. Kris Sheppard before taking off to Europe. At The Runner’s Academy of course.
It has been fun to track this training cycle on Whoop (https://whoop.com/) and I will write more on it after I can look at all of the data. But I have been in the green (>66% recovered) for 5 days now… which has never happened!! So it is really interesting to be able to see that my body is getting ready to perform physiologically as well. ***today I am 98% recovered which is definitely a PB.
Oh yeah and do not be afraid when you feel totally off and lazy. Its a terrible feeling but normal and to be expected. Just do not think too much in to it. I know when I am in my taper and look back at what I was doing in the peak of my training it is almost unbelievable I actually did that. But I did so now is the time to trust the training.
And do not be afraid to dream big… go for the break through!!!
All in all try to keep a similar routine while still allowing the mileage to come down and the rest to come up. You do not want to do nothing and get flat but you want to allow yourself to recover in order to perform at your best.
PS. I totally used this blog post as to procrastinate packing for the trip. Bahhh!!