Time to Taper
We have made it to the taper into Cap City! We are less than 2 weeks from race day and the long training runs are behind us. We have spent 15 weeks building mileage and recovering, then repeating the whole thing. Many of us who had never run more than 3 miles in January are saying things like “I only have 6 miles on the schedule today!” It’s truly amazing how our bodies adapt and our thinking changes over the course of a training season. Taper is the time to allow all of that work to bear fruit. We must run or walk less miles and give our bodies some respite to heal and prepare for race day. It’s a time of less training volume and more recovery. It can be a challenge mentally to give yourself that time and often there’s a drive to do more than prescribed. Resist that temptation and stick to the plan. Remember that following your plan has brought you this far, so give it 10 more days!
The Hay is in The Barn
The “hay is in the barn” was a favorite quote of both MIT/Premier Races founder Jeff Glaze and also 2007 Columbus Marathon winner Robb Kestner. Recently, I was asked to explain that quote so I guess the torch has been passed. As the wife of a 5th generation Ohio farmer this one hits close to home and is a favorite of mine too. Once you get to taper time, either you’ve done the work or you haven’t. There may have been runs that you missed or workout times that you wished you had nailed, but that’s all over now. The collective work that you have put in over the last 15 weeks and the work before the season began, THAT is what will get you through on race day. A few missed workouts here or there will not hurt you. Additionally, trying to cram more work in now that the race is looming cannot help your fitness. It can hurt you though. Once a farmer brings the last bales to the barn and finished putting it up in the haymow that’s it. You can’t change the quantity that was in the field and you can’t change the quality of the grass that went into it. It’s up, your work is over, it’s time to relax and reap the benefits. Take the time to look back at all that work that you’ve put in and I think you’ll realize that your barn is much fuller than you first thought.
Taper Madness – excerpt from 2013 post (read entire 2013 post here)
Often during the taper before a distance event, runners will feel all sorts of new aches and pains. Do not worry, most of these are normal. If something hurts or even feels off, TAKE THE DAY OFF. Don’t run. Just relax and get extra rest. If it still bugs you the next day or so, get in touch with your favorite sports med doc. Most of these aches and pains are your body’s way of rebuilding itself and some of them are in our heads, but not all. If it doesn’t get better with a couple days of rest, see your doctor. Also, stay away from people with obvious illnesses. After long runs, over about 1.5-2 hours our immune systems are a bit compromised. Maybe postpone the outing to the ultra-huge screen cinema until after the race. You want to do the normal things to prevent colds and such during this time: eat well, get good quality sleep, wash your hands, stay away from people who are sick.
How can I make it 2 weeks on less volume?
Running and walking has become routine. It may be the way you wake up and kick start your day, or like me the way to wind down and relieve stress. Tapering doesn’t mean NO running, it just means less running. Enjoy those runs. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come. It can be mentally challenging to pull back on your training, but it is worth it. I fill that extra time by catching up with friends and family that may have seen less of me over the training season. Often, the taper is the time to meet up with running buddies over coffee or lunch and talk about something other than running (or just more talk about running). Thank those around you for the giving you the time and space needed to train successfully this past winter.
What NOT to do
Finding ourselves with more free time and feeling less tired, runners begin looking for new outlets. Don’t try a new sport or physically demanding hobby right now. Wait until after race day to pick up Ballroom dance or begin that landscaping project you’ve been meaning to get to. It will still be there in May!
Cap City races are all about celebrating the healthy fitness lifestyle. The training was the hard part, but it has become part of our lives. The races are the celebration of that work and a city that encourages healthy habits. Congratulations on training for a half or quarter marathon or 5k. Truly you are an inspiration to those around you. We all look forward to celebrating YOU on race day. I will be at the finish line cheering you home!
Happy training (and tapering)!
More on tapering here