It’s Time for the Taper Time

If you get the song reference then you win the prize of the day… 

With training at high intensity and mileage, there comes a point (and need) to taper and run less.  Whether you are tapering for a race or just cutting your mileage, it’s a necessary part of training to stay injury free.  Tapering is a topic that many runners struggle with.  The goal for taper isn’t to make you go crazy…it’s to rest your body from mileage you have put in during the training cycle.

Tapering can be one of the most important aspects of your training.

Now that you are running less…what do you do with this new found extra time?

To be honest I don’t know what advice to give. I find myself wasting my normal running time on the internet (Honesty is the best policy right?).  I’m not even good at sleeping in like most tapering articles recommend. 

I don’t have advice about how to deal with “taper crazies” because honestly tapering is a part of racing.  If you want to run well at a goal race, tapering is a necessary part of the process.  Similar to advice on how to run on the treadmill (you just do it), my advice for cutting mileage is: you just do it.

In my experience there are a few things that can pass the 1-2 hours of extra time you somehow have for a few weeks:

  1. Blog more frequently! Instead of posting once a day, up your game to 2-3 daily posts.  I can even edit my posts for grammar and spelling mistakes!  #somuchfreetime
  2. Go out to eat with friends. Now that you are running less, you have more time to go out to restaurants and eat. 

All joking aside, I’ve been asked about my tapering plan for Phoenix.  This is my second marathon and I am still trying to figure out what works for me.

For NYCM, I peaked at a 100 mile week.  For about 4 weeks, I slowly tapered down to 80, 65, 50 and then 30 miles.  During that time I also moved 2000 miles which made it easier to run less.  I found my legs felt good during the race.  I don’t think it was a bad taper at all.  That isn’t the taper I will be doing this year though.

A photo of me running a marathon.
A photo of me running NYCM

This tapering and training is different for many reasons.

  • I’m coming off an injury. While my stress fracture was 6 months ago (WOW 6 months), I am still coming off an injury.  My highest mileage week was 73 (last week).  I had many quality runs but my peak mileage was 30 miles less than last time.
  • I completed my last long run 17 days before the race. With NYCM, I ran my last long run a full 3 weeks before the race.
  • I’m not driving 2000 miles and moving during taper. I think this is self-explanatory.

My tapering for Phoenix will be reasonable.  I plan to cut down my mileage down to 40-50 miles this week and then 30 next week.  When I did a mini taper for my 10 mile race in January, I ran a very solid and motivating time of 1:07.  I think I will use a similar (but more tapered) version of that for my marathon.

  • This week I plan to take 2 rest days and next week I will take 3 complete rest days.  For me personally, if I take more rest days my legs will feel stiff.
  • I’ll also be getting a deep tissue massage this week.

I’m not an expert on running, marathon training or tapering.  Tapering is personal and you must figure out what works the best for you.  During the next two weeks I’ll focus on posting about little things I’m doing to work towards my goal race such as perfecting nutrition and tapering (including articles I’ve found helpful and interesting).

Here are some more qualified opinions and articles about tapering though:

10 Marathon Taper Tips

The Art of the Marathon Taper

Also Amanda just wrote a post about tapering for her marathon the same weekend.  A great read!

Questions for you:

How do you taper? What do you spend your time doing?