Surviving Taper Madness
You've completed your training plan and your last long run is in the bag, now what? What is this thing called Taper? Why do runners call it 'Taper Madness'?
Its common for a lot of runners to go a bit ‘Taper Crazy’ in the last stages of their training for a marathon during the period called ‘Taper’. Depending on the programme you are following or on how you like to prepare for your marathon, the taper period is normally the 2-3 weeks out from race day. This period is normally when your mileage will reduce and so will some of the intensity of the sessions although you will be running just as many days. Its an opportunity to recover from the training and stress you have put your body through in order to peak for race day.
Runners start to go through lots of doubts and negative thoughts about their training and feel like they are losing some of the fitness that they have built up over the previous 3-4 months.
Here are a 10 ways you can be kind to yourself during the taper period. Just know that you are not alone and embrace the process!
1. Know that it takes 10-14 days for the body to adapt from any training. The temptation is to squeeze in some extra sessions, its common to feel that you could have trained more. This isn't the time to do it and your body wont benefit from it but you increase the chance of overtraining or worse picking up an injury. You wont lose your fitness in the two weeks and we aren't stopping completely, we are just reducing the mileage and some of the intensity.
2. Don't destroy all the good work by making poor nutrition choices - your mileage will drop and its not uncommon to see a small gain in weight as you may still be eating the same as you were eating during your high mileage weeks - carb loading isn't an excuse to eat all the cake 😉
3. Catching up with friends and family - with the reduced miles comes additional time and its a great opportunity to spend some time with the family and friends you may have neglected during the thick of the training. We couldn't train as hard as we do, without the support of these people. Reconnect and show them how much their support means to you.
4. Stick to your routine - this isn't the time to try out any new exercise regimes or change your dietary habits
5. Sleep and recovery - over the last 2 - 3 months we have been overloading the body and stressing it so that it becomes stronger. Your plan should have included rest and recovery days. Now that your longest run has been done its time to let the body recover and get ready to peak on the day. Getting a good nights sleep is going to be key to this.
6. If you can think it you can achieve it - I am a great fan of positive visualisation so this is a good time to think about how the day is going to go and think about how it will feel crossing that line and achieving your goal.
7. Look back at your training plan - you keep a running journal right? either something like Strava or paper journal. A lot of runners start to have doubts and concerns about their training and feel they haven't done enough and wont be able to finish. Its the perception and not the reality and by reviewing the training that you have done you will see how consistent you have been and even if you have missed a few sessions, I follow the 80/20 rule and if you have completed 80% of your sessions then you are in good shape.
8. Include some speed - although we don't want to do any hard speed sessions, when out on your runs its good to include some strides or fartleks just to keep the legs turning over
9. Don't sign up for any local races - this isn't the time to go for a PB at the local ParkRun. You will feel like you want to run fast the further into your taper you get. remember why you are training and your marathon is the A race - as one of my athletes always says - trust the training and keep your eye on the prize
10.Treat yourself to a sports massage but don't do it close to race day as people react differently to them and I would recommend no closer than a week to race day.
How do you deal with 'Taper Madness'