There’s nothing potentially more frustrating for a runner than the marathon taper…or any distance taper really. Last weekend I ran 21 miles for my last long run before starting my taper for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. This will be the 4th anniversary of my 1st marathon and my 8th marathon overall. I am elated to run and go for a PR at the place where I love to run the most surrounded by fellow runners, teammates, friends and family! So all there’s left to do is…taper.
Tapering if you don’t know is a reduction in training time and intensity. For 16 weeks I’ve been pushing the envelope on speed and distance with the goal in mind of PRing at Disney. My current marathon PR is 5:15:07 and I have trained to come in under 5 hours for the marathon on January 12th. My secondary goal is a PR of any kind.
With these goals in mind it is time to…train LESS? Yep, welcome to tapering…woo hoo. Great! Tapering…how’s that done? Train less, sleep more, eat less (since you don’t need the extra fuel for training), do more recovery activities like stretching, massage, foam rolling, go sit in the sauna, hangout and watch some Monday night football, etc., etc. Mind numbing I know as the energy starts to store up from all the training I’ve done sine summer.
Still, it’s important. Science tells us it’s important so here’s how to do it!
T – Trust in Your Training (You’ve prepared yourself for this)
A – Adjust Your Caloric Intake (Eat less since you’re training less)
P – Perfect Your Race Day Strategy (Form a plan and stick to it)
E – Embrace the Free Time (Enjoy a few days of sleeping in)
I have one more long run tomorrow and it will be time to taper for the Walt Disney World Marathon! Tomorrow is my 20 miler. I’ve done 15, 17, and 18 mile runs over the last few weeks building up to this final run for my usual “cross the finish line” training plan. I plan for it to take a full 4 hours. Unfortunately I caught a rhino virus over Christmas that decided to finally show up last night so Sunday’s 20 mile run should be interesting. As usual my long run will be slow or what runners call an LSD, a long slow distance run. If it were anything but the common cold I might have to skip the 20 miler and start tapering now, but we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. It may be that I do a 4 hour walk on Sunday which would be closer to a 12-13 miler, but regardless I am in it for a 4-hour time period.
I want to make sure that I am ready to stay on my feet and in motion for Sunday January 13th. I’ll be running the Disney Marathon with a friend who is going for her first Goofy challenge. It will also be her first marathon so having a couple people along for moral support will be a big help! You may even know her from the blog she writes! My friend is the force behind the We Wants the Redhead blog! Check it out!
We both run on the WDW Radio Running Team to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation through the Dream Team Project. We run to grant a child’s wish to go to Walt Disney World, a worthy cause if ever there was one! If you have an extra $5 dollars I would greatly appreciate the donation. I will be happy to dedicate a mile or two to you!
Tapering is always interesting as you reduce your level of training significantly to allow your body rest, recovery, and repair for the big day. Next week assuming my cold is gone I will still do a tempo run and a day of interval training, but I won’t go for the top end speed as I usually would for those types of training. I’ll also decrease the amount of strength training I do to just one or two days as that kind of training can make you a bit tight and tapering is also about getting loose for the big day.
Two things I will increase are my time on the elliptical and sleep! I’ll do the elliptical to maintain my calorie burn for the week. The holidays have not been kind to the number on my scale so over the next two weeks I am focused on a structured nutrition program and getting a good calorie burn each day.
The week leading up to the marathon will be light and primarily just easy sessions on the elliptical along with a couple short runs of less than 5-miles at an effortless pace and no weight lifting. Rest rest rest is on the training agenda!
I’m really looking forward to running my 3rd Disney Marathon. This will be my 6th full marathon overall and my 8th runDisney race! I hope to see some of you at Walt Disney World in a couple weeks!
You can also follow me on Twitter @TheRunningMan23
I’ve written about tapering in the past, but felt it was worth writing about again as I approach my next half-marathon this coming Saturday. I’m running the nation’s largest half-marathon, The Indianapolis Mini-Marathon with 35K+ other runners in Indianapolis, IN.
What prompted this post was all the “taper tweets” I’ve been reading this morning. Many runners are worried about doing too much or not enough in the last 7-10 days leading up to their race. I totally understand dear friends!
First off for all my new runners out there you might be asking, “Tapering? What’s that?” Tapering is the final days leading up to your big event when you workout less so as to get the recovery you need for race day. Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, 15K, Half, Full or Ultra marathon it really doesn’t matter. All of these have a little taper time before hand.
In my opinion and experience, how much tapering you need depends a lot on your amount of current running experience, the distance you’re going in your event and the number of races you’ve run prior. All of this combined should fit into a plan of what works best for you.
For me, I tend to taper for 7-10 days before anything less than a full-marathon. So two weeks out from this half I did a final 10 mile long run. Last Friday I did a 6 miler and primarily rested over the weekend except to do yard work. This week I rested Monday and I’ll do short runs Tuesday and Wednesday. I lifted last week on two days and did a very light (high rep) full body weights routine today (Tuesday). I’ll be finished with any weight lifting after today. Thursday I will go to the gym and do something non-impact like cycling, elliptical or maybe just walking on the treadmill while I watch ESPN. 🙂 Friday I will take off completely (and sleep in past my usual 4:30am wake-up call) since the race is the next day.
One big component of my tapering is stretching. I normally stretch after every workout, but I will take a little extra time to stretch my IT Bands, glutes, legs, shoulders and back. Basically, instead of doing 2-3 sets of stretches I will do 3-5 sets adding 10-15 minutes of extra stretching. Many times I’ll also use my foam roller at night to make sure I have all the knots worked out of my legs.
As for diet, I don’t change much in the taper zone. 2-3 days out from the race I do eat a little more pasta….mainly because I really LOVE pasta! There is a lot of hype around carb loading, but I’ve read the actual research studies and while stored muscle glycogen (sugar/carbs) is a limiting factor for performance (sorry about the geek speak), the average runner doesn’t get a lot of benefit from carb loading. As long as you rest a couple days before an event, your muscle glycogen stores will increase just from not exercising. You’ll also want to replenish during the event/race with Gatorade, gels, etc. at regular intervals. Basically find what works for you and stick with it.
For me, I eat a measured serving of cereal, a banana and a cup of coffee a couple hours before the race. 15-30 minutes out from the start I pop a GU Energy Gel and then continue to take more gels as the race progresses usually every 30-45 minutes. I also use the provided water and Gatorade on the course. I might be overloading on the carbs, but it doesn’t bother my stomach so I stick with the plan. I also don’t have to worry about hitting the wall at mile 11 and crawling to the finish line.
Remember, tapering is a good thing! You won’t lose the ability to run long distance in a week…or even two weeks. I’ve even had races where I didn’t workout at all 5-6 days before an event and did fine during the race….including earning a PR by over 8 minutes! I chalk it up to being well rested.
Tapering is also a time to make sure you are getting extra sleep. If you are a morning exerciser, sleep in those last two days before an event and get your 8 hours (or more if possible). If you are an evening exerciser use the gym time to get a few things done early so you can get to bed early. Don’t waste the time on the TV…that’s why we have DVR! 🙂
Active.com had a decent article on Tapering today as well if you’d like to check it out! Also, Runner’s World had a good article on Recovery days today. Though not specific to tapering it speaks well to recovery which is what tapering is all about!
Not training as intensely as I have for the past year is probably the most excruciating thing I have experienced to date. When you train regularly you have a lot of energy! Now it’s taper time as my 1st marathon at Walt Disney World is just a couple weeks away. And yes, I’m full of energy!!! It’s time to cut the training down a bit though. It’s all about resting more and waiting. The upside is that all those little aches & pains that come from running a lot of mileage are starting to go away with the increased cross training and lower weekly mileage.
I had a plan of dropping 10 extra pounds before the marathon. I’m half way there! At 185lbs I’m feeling good. Having maintained that weight thru Christmas dinner at mom & dad’s house as well as surviving all the treats my GF makes thru the holidays I am even more excited to still be on track!
This week I only have one 45 minute run though I’m hitting the elliptical three other days for a good calorie burn and non-impact cross training. I’ll do a 7 miler on Sunday at slightly slower than race pace.
The week before I head South to see Mickey, I will have a couple 30 minute easy runs and then it’s time to wait the last few days until January 9th and my first 26.2 mile magical adventure! In the mean time I’m prepping with a Gear Checklist!
The Gear List:
Running Shoes & Socks!
Waiver and Bib Document for the Disney Marathon
Cold Gear tights
Cold Gear shirt
WDW Radio Running Team Shirt
Knee brace (better safe…)
Running belt for GU
NSAIDs (for a few hours after)
GU (Carrying 8 to cover 5 hours)
EAS protein (for immediately after the race)
Optional Gear to Prepare for potential Weather during the Race
Snorkel & Mask
Snake Bite Kit
Whatever you’re training for have fun and I’ll be writing about my 26.2 mile magical adventure soon enough!