It’s here! I have completed my final week of peak training (56 miles!) and now have officially entered my first week of taper. I will cut back 20% this week, another 25% the next week and then will have a few easy/shake-out runs during race week.
I don’t think I have ever really mastered the art (science?) of taper. I believe I was close at Beach 2 Battleship, but even then I never had that “caged animal” feeling. I have felt rested, recovered and ready to race, but never bursting with energy to where I couldn’t sit still because I needed to get out and just run.
Part of that is because, as a low mileage runner (35 mpw) in the past, there just isn’t much ‘cutting back’ to be done before there really isn’t that much running going on at all. And in triathlons, with 3 sports to fit in, the volume is reduced but I was still doing lots of workouts, so while my body may have been recovering, I didn’t get the same psychological effect.
I have experienced phantom “taper crazies” merely because getting closer to race day sparks anxious/excited/nervous feelings, but I have never felt that incredible exhaustion of peak training turn to exploding energy of taper.
And I WANT IT.
I want to go into Eugene feeling like I pushed my body as hard as I could, then tapered to restore it, to give it everything it needs so it can give me what I WANT on race day. I want to be bouncing off the walls with energy during race week, ready to leave it all out on the course.
How will I do it different this time? Well first, my training cycle was different, which I think plays a big part. I peaked in the mid 50’s, which is 20 mpw more than ever before. So my body definitely has those aches and pains that come along with running a lot of miles (for me). But I also am planning to use several tools to get me through taper healthy, both mentally and physically.
My taper survival kit:
- Sleep. Several of you reminded me how important this is in my recent post. I think it is something that I have sort of taken for granted during training because I have been so tired that I naturally end up in bed before 10 most nights. But as the volume and intensity of my workouts is reduced, I am going to have to be very diligent about still getting to bed early and getting plenty of sleep.
- Nuun All Day. Thanks Ali for reminding me to drink some sort of Emergen-C type drink to make sure that I don’t get sick! I will definitely be throwing a Nuun All Day tab in my water bottle every morning from here on out to give me a solid dose of sickness preventing vitamins.
- Yoga. My love affair with yoga is still going strong. I have practiced yoga throughout this training cycle and will continue during taper. My core (while still incredibly weak) is probably the strongest its ever been and I truly think yoga has helped keep me healthy and strong. I think yoga will also be helpful to keep me centered, focused and calm as the race gets closer. (Who am I?)
- Bengay Zero Degrees. The nice people from Bengay sent me this product after Hood to Coast and asked me what I thought. I was fortunate to not have to use it this fall, but I have been using it religiously the last month or so. I have mentioned before (over and over?) that my right glute/hamstring are tight and a bit worrisome at times, so I have been doing everything I can to keep it runnable (new word?). I know the reduced mileage and rest will help, but this stuff is great. You keep it in your freezer and then apply it directly on your skin. It’s cold and hot all at the same time and soothes my muscles like nothing else I have ever used. I swear by it.
- Food. Ahhh food. I don’t talk much about what I eat or my weight here, but let’s go ahead and do that now. I have lost about 8-9 lbs. during this training cycle. About 3 of those lbs., I put on after B2B from just a sheer change in activity level (and no change in eating habits). I haven’t been “dieting”. But I have been using My Fitness Pal to track what I have been eating. What I have learned is that I need a lot of calories to fuel myself during marathon training, but not NEAR as many as what I had been eating before. In the past, I definitely adopted the “I ran xx miles, I can eat as many Red Vines/Cookies/Gummy Bears I want” rule. Using the app has kept me accountable to not overdoing it, mostly with sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I still have been consuming my fair share of sugar, but at least now I stop at 8 Red Vines, instead of 1/2 of the family-sized bag 🙂 I am going to give myself another week with my beloved sugar, but after that I am planning to try to cut out most processed sugars (+ alcohol) in the 2 weeks leading up to the race. This might be challenging, but I want to do everything I can to get my body ready. Also I will be moving/living with in-laws for the week prior, so we’ll see if I follow though :).
- Foam Roller. Not much I need to say about this. I love/hate this thing, but I have been using it quite a bit lately and plan to continue to use it until I toe the line in Eugene.
- Wise words. We all know that once we get to taper, “The hay is in the barn.” and that we should “Trust the training.” But that doesn’t stop me from questioning, worrying, wondering and over-analyzing in the days leading up to the race. I am going to be reminding myself of all the work I put in and also looking for reassurances like this to get me through taper:
So let the taper begin!
What other tools are in your taper survival kit? Any other “wise words” you can share?