Tapering, for those of you who don’t know, is a period of time when “the volume of training is reduced in the days or weeks leading up to a key event to prevent training-induced fatigue from impacting your performance on the day.” Basically, it’s crunch time before a marathon or half marathon. Tapering is awesome and awful for so many reasons. According to a Runner’s World poll, 40% of runners enjoy taper time, while 19% “find them to be simply excruciating.” I fall under both schools of thought.
Runners World says research has shown those who taper properly perform better than those who train right up until race day. So read up and taper right.
The Truth About Tapering
- Carb intake is supposed to increase by 25% (oh, twist my arm…). Do so with all whole grains, and don’t skimp on the protein and healthy fats. As always, chicken, fish, lean meats, beans, and legumes are great protein sources.
- Increased rest. Which can be a double-edged sword… but let’s be honest, it’s mostly awesome. Rest builds strength, so this is important.
- You feel like you want to do everything you can to beast the race, so scaling down on mileage by 60% on your runs makes you feel like a lazy bum. The urge to cram in a few extra miles is a hard one to fight.
- Sleep should become priority (too bad I haven’t slept well this week)
- Hydration is essential the week before training
For a half marathon, your taper should be 10-14 days long. The key workout during this time is a 2-mile run at race pace. For other runs during taper time, mileage should be drastically reduced and intensity levels should be around 50% (I always struggle with this and have to reel myself in).
For a marathon, tapering should last 14-21 days. That key workout at race pace should be a 5-miler.
What I’ve been doing for Taper Time:
sold outgave in. I went and bought the very item I used to snark when I truly was a newb runner.
With my unrelenting shins, I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d have to lock down a pair of compression sleeves. I went with Zensah compression sleeves, and I’ve been told these will be “life-changing,” make my calves and shins feel “sooo much better,” and make me skip on rainbows and trail sparkles everywhere I go. Since I only bought them yesterday, I’m still waiting for all of the above.
My prior issue with the running sleeves was due to my first experience spotting them. When I ran the Grand Strand Turkey Trot 5k a few years ago, a lanky lady (no judging here… look at me) was wearing a spandex tank and shorts combo, had compression sleeves on her legs, arm sleeves, and sports sunglasses. She looked like she thought she was such a badass, and my cousin and I snickered as we stretched by the starting line in our Target running gear.
Let’s be serious. I in no way try to look like a badass when I run. In fact, I generally go the opposite route, as you well know.
Clearly, I have no intention of ever appearing like I think I am a badass. Before, I felt like sporting the compression sleeves would give me that air of badassery I’d rather not show off.
So, I was originally intending to grab some black ones. Understated. Just servin’ their purpose, just helping my shinskies out. But after looking at my color options and comparing what would look the best with my beloved Brooks Pure Connects, I figured I may as well go all out with the neon version. I wanted the bright yellow, but there weren’t any in my size, so I opted for hot pink.
And those Balega socks? They were on sale at the running store, and I snagged two pair. In bright colors, obviously, since yesterday’s theme was apparently “go bright or go home.” I ran a 3-mile taper run in the yellow ones yesterday, and I think it marked the beginning of a beautiful Balega relationship.
Since I’ve been told to wear the sleeves as I’m resting as well, I’m wearing these pink compression sleeves to work. Underneath my dress pants. It’s like a little secret no one knows… until I show a little ankle in the school hallway and blind everyone by my neon calves. The high schoolers will love it.
- More carbs – a little whole wheat pasta on my lunch salads, brown rice with my dinner, you know the drill.
That’s a BBQ brown rice tilapia bowl.
- Strider runs – I have trouble forcing myself to take it down a notch for taper runs. So, I channel my inner high school track runner and do “strider” runs. Our track coach used to tell us to take the longest step forward our legs could reach, then repeat. Turn that into a comfortable run (not a stride sprint), and you have my favorite strider run. I look like I’m jumping over puddles the entire way, but it feels good on the legs and keeps me from speeding up too much. Let’s reiterate the fact one more time: I clearly don’t ever look cool when I run.
What’s your favorite/least favorite part about tapering? Any favorite tips you’ve gotten for taper time?