We are officially one week and five days away from the main event at the 2017 Chicago Half Marathon and 5K and with training days waning down to the main event, it is time to talk about: the taper run. Sure, for most of us, we look forward to that week with a sigh of relief as it means that the miles start getting shorter but for others, there seems to be an uncertainty about it.
“I feel so good after my long runs; why should I cut back now?”
“If I start cutting back now, I’ll lose all the progress I’ve made.”
Don’t worry, you are not alone with this. It is not uncommon for athletes to feel this way but allowing your body to properly heal and recuperate after long runs is just as important. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too far and end up completely unmotivated on race day or worst case scenario – end up injured.
What to Expect When Tapering
Two Weeks Out
- Reduce your total weekly mileage by 20 – 25%
- Restock your body’s depleted glycogen supplies
- Repair tissue damage
- Refocus and mentally recharge
- Perform runs at an easy pace
- You should be able to hold a conversation while running
- Targeting a goal pace? Segment 3-5 miles minimum at goal pace
- Cross Train
- Throw swimming. yoga, etc in the mix to keep you active without too much pressure on legs & feet
One Week Out (Race Week)
- Reduce your running to just 4 days this week
- Light, race pace workout early in the week
- Reduces the stress/anxiety from tapering
- Stay OFF your feet for the rest of it
- Injuries are most prevalent one race week. Take a breather and rest.
- Focus on mental stability and nutrition. It’s all about balance.
For some, tapering could be like a roller coaster. At first you are ecstatic about the short runs but then can run into anxiety or nervousness as you start to feel restless. There are ways of battling this anxiety as well. One of the main concerns will stem from the excess time you now have that you are not dedicated to training.
Battle Taper Anxiety
The week leading up to the event should have you recovering and rejuvenating. Going to bed early and sleeping in will fortify your mental stability and overall emotional strength. The time off your feet will give your muscles a chance to repair. Don’t forget to stretch and include minimal exertion such as a 15-20 minute walk to keep those muscles active.
Positive Thoughts, Positive Outcome
Training for an event is just as much a group as at it is an individual goal. This is the best time to surround yourself with your loved ones who have supported you along the way to the Finish line. Maintain run club meets if you have been training with others if only to keep everyone in check.
Be Realistic for Race Day
Set up a strategy for race day. With only a handful of days between you and the Finish line, now is the best time to set realistic goals for race day. You know how far you can push your body. Be cognizant of weather, overall health and training.
While everyones training regime is different, the tapering process remains consistent. You do not want to sabotage your month of hard work, trust in the taper.