taper (verb) – to diminish the length and intensity of one’s workouts in the days preceding an important competition in order to optimize one’s performance
taper (verb) – to drive yourself crazy checking the weather forecast for race day, sensing every little twinge or ache is an oncoming injury, and lacking an outlet for said nervous injury due to your taper
Women’s Half is less than a week away. I’ve been training for months. I’ve executed every long run, every speed workout and tempo run, and most of my scheduled easy runs and cross-training according to my training plan. The hay is in the barn. Now I let my body rest. Of course, reducing exercise doesn’t mean eliminating exercise. I’ll still do some easy miles to make sure my legs know how to run, but otherwise, I wait.
Tapering can be mentally challenging. There is a desire to want to “cram” for the race. The desire to fit in one last speed workout or tempo run to make sure I can really hold my goal pace. I tend to start feeling phantom injuries. My shins ache or my IT band feels a bit tight, even if everything has been working fine up until now. I check the weather forecast a couple of times a day, hoping that it won’t be raining or too hot.
This year I’m going to try some new things in addition to some old things.
1. No drinking the week before a race.
I like my glass of wine or beer with dinner, especially if we’re socializing with friends, but no dice this week. I’ll need the hydration of water, and there won’t be any possibility of me overdoing it the night before the race.
2. Don’t try anything new.
I’m going to wear the same clothes I’ve done my long runs in, race in my trusty Ghost 4’s, and take GU somewhere between miles 6-7 while alternating Gatorade and water at each aid station. I’m going to run the paths I’ve been running, and while I might take a spin class this week, I’m going to resist trying anything that will make me sore or that I haven’t done in a while. I’m looking at you BodyPump, yoga, and pilates. It’s also not the time to try out a new sushi restaurant that I’m unfamiliar with.
3. Wear comfortable shoes (like not these).
My job requires that I’m on my feet and walking around a good portion of the day. This week I’m going to make an extra effort to wear flats that offer good support. There’s nothing worse than developing blisters from work shoes that rub in exactly the same spot as my running shoes.
4. Take extra good care of myself.
Sleep, healthy “clean” foods, and lots and lots of water.