Tapering Like a Champ

Happy Friday everyone! It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend!

This past week, I began the part of half-marathon training that everyone looks forward to; TAPER WEEK!

my thoughts exactly. Taper week=scary.

So far, I’m not really enjoying taper week. I feel anxious. I feel like I should be out running and doing other various crazy things. Here’s what my week has looked like so far:

  • Sunday: Lovely 8.5 mile run with Steph. Last long run! We high-fived afterward.
  • Monday: Gym, jump rope circuit and too many squats. Ouch.
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run outside, which sucked. My hips were super sore from previously stated squats. Stupid Sarah.
  • Wednesday: 60 min spin class with my favorite spin instructor who is 1 week away from her due date. She’s so pregnant it’s insane. Felt amazing to spin. Slept in my compression shorts.
  • Thursday: I was scheduled to run an easy 2 miles, but my stomach was NOT feeling too great throughout the afternoon, so I decided against it. I foam rolled my IT bands until I was bruised. Slept in my compression shorts again.

Today I plan on doing nothing, again. ‘Rest’ is the operative word this week. There are a lot of theories about how long one should taper for certain distance races, and how much activity is too much. I found a pretty great article with tips or first-time marathoners from an old Runner’s World “Ask Coach Jenny” blog. Some of my favorite tips include:

Have faith in your preparation, especially during the taper. Something mystical happens when you begin to taper your mileage to rest up for the race. It’s a little like taking away Linus’s blanket as there is comfort in training because you are actively moving towards your target race. As you reduce the mileage, the nervousness sets in. Remember that tapering allows your body time to rest and accumulate energy at the rate of a slow simmer so that on race day you are fresh and ready to rumble. Review your training log to remind yourself of the base you have going into the race and visualize a strong run during the season. You are well prepared and that is the best insurance against earning that medal.

I found myself reading over my training log today. My first ‘long run’ was 5 miles. Within 7 weeks, I doubled that and ran 11.5 miles for my final long run. That’s insanity! I’ve come a long way in a pretty short period of time. Over the course of training, I’ve gone from hating running, to being absolutely head-over-heels in love with it. My overall love for running has increased and I’m surprised how much I enjoyed my slow and easy long runs.

Warn your family and friends that you’ll have the stability of a 3-year-old child on race day. I’ve borrowed this line from my husband John Bingham, and it’s true. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, making even the smallest decisions like what to eat and what to wear will feel like life changing moments during race week. Ask your support team for extra patience, because they’ll need it. Anticipate this temporary state of immaturity and lay out your clothes the night before the race. It helps to try on everything you plan to wear (bib number, chip on shoe…) The more prepared you are the night before, the better.

Bernie is probably already so sick of hearing about running, he could scream. It’s become my entire life, especially over the last couple weeks. I don’t know what will happen on race day on Sunday, but I might cry. We’ll see.

Run the tangents! It took me several years to learn this nugget of information and I shaved minutes off my time once I did. When a race course is measured (and certified) it follows the tangents to the curves. A tangent is a straight line just outside the curve (or as close to the curve while still on the road). For example, Sandra the runner sees a curve on the course and runs a straight line (tangent to) the inside of the curve. Beth (who is not paying attention and didn’t read this blog) follows the curve in the road.  Curve for curve, Beth will end up running more mileage in the end. Sandra will run the measured 13.1 miles (and be showered  before Beth finishes). This will help you in two very important ways:  One, it keeps your mind actively engaged in running the course as you think your way through every turn.  Two, you’ll run only 13.1 miles! You can add more than a quarter-mile to the course by taking the long way around turns! Stay focused, grasshopper, and set yourself up efficiently as you wind through the course.

I figured this out from running a lot of 5k’s, but I didn’t even think about it for the half marathon. I plan on doing this as much as possible. While I have a time goal in my head, I decided the other day not to hold myself to it. This is my first half marathon and my first time running the distance, ever. I really should focus on enjoying every second.

Only 2 days to go! Thankfully, the weather is going to be gorgeous – almost 70 degrees! The average temperature this winter while I was running was between 35-40 degrees. 70 degrees is going to be quite a change. Hopefully it doesn’t completely throw me off.


Readers: Seasoned marathoners/racers – what are your tapering tips? Have you ever tapered before? What are you doing this weekend?


6 thoughts on “Tapering Like a Champ

  1. Good luck! I’m excited and nervous for you…that sounds crazy I know, but it’s true. I’m running my first half in October and right now I’m training for my first 10k. 6.2 miles seems almost impossible to me now, I can’t even think about 13.1 just yet. I’ve learned soo much from your blog. Anyway, good luck and can’t wait to hear how it all went.

  2. Is your spin instructor Karleen, by any chance? I go to the Beacon Hill Athletic Club in Brookline Village and Karleen is my very, very pregnant spin instructor on Tuesday and Thursday mornings… coincidence? or same person?
    Good luck on Sunday. You’ll feel amazing when you cross that finish line, in goal-time or not!

    • Jenna! I didn’t know you go to the Brookline Village BHAC – I go to Cleveland Circle. Yes, same Karleen! She teaches Mon/Wed nights at Cleveland Cir. I can’t believe she’s still teaching! Thanks for the encouragement!

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