Hooray for Tapering
You’ve been training for the past 12 weeks in anticipation of your first half marathon or maybe training for a personal record “PR,” now you’ve reached the last week leading up to the race, and it’s time to “taper.” Some plans begin tapering two weeks before the race but my taper week starts the week leading up to the big day. The three focal points during taper week are training, nutrition and sleep.
You’ve completed your final long run the weekend before the race, which ranges between 6-10 miles (for me 9 miles), now it's time to decrease your weekly miles to 40% of your peak mileage leading up to the big day. The goal is not to completely stop running, but to make sure your legs feel rested and not stale. Strength and cross training should also decrease during taper week.
All plans are different; my plan instructs me to run easy on Monday, pace on Tuesday, recovery on Wednesday, rest (yoga is my go to on these days because my mind won’t let me not be active) on Thursday and Friday, and two easy miles on Saturday.
Some races including the BMW Marathon Dallas are now offering weekend challenges giving runners the opportunity to run a 5k or 10k on Saturday. This challenge is a great way to prepare you for race day physically and mentally. The challenge also allows you to collect more “Bling” and “Swag” (PR’s are great, but the bling and swag are at the top of the list).
We’ve all heard the statement “Carb Up” before the race, which means to find the biggest bowl of pasta, or the largest pizza, leading up to race day. With all the different eating lifestyles, nutrition during taper week and the night before the race has changed sufficiently. Don't make any changes to your nutrition lifestyle this week. If you have trained for the past 12 weeks while following the Paleo, Whole 30 or Keto (Ketoterian for me) guidelines, your body has adjusted to burning more fat and fewer carbs. Be mindful to watch your protein, fat and fiber 24 hours leading up to the race.
Full recovery requires eight to ten hours of sleep each night. This sleep formula has been taught to us since birth, however, not many people can get the prescribed amount of sleep each night. This week sleep is essential. Since you are reducing your mileage use that extra time to sleep.
Unable to get a good night sleep, try calming tea (Chamomile, Tulsi Sleep or Sweet Dreams); Essential oils and a diffuser (Lavender, Chamomile or Eucalyptus). Also, try a deep sleep meditation audio stream like Youtube (this is my new favorite, I wake up rested and rejuvenated).
It might be a challenge to reduce your mileage, resist the traditional “Carb Up,” or to get eight to ten hours of sleep. Remember it was also a challenge to run all those miles the last 12 weeks but you did it and you can also do this, so you’ll be ready for an excellent race!
I hope to see you on the pavement this weekend (December 8th-9th) for the BMW Dallas Marathon. Use #ontherunwithkrista so I can see your great accomplishment.