Taper, Taper Time!

This week a large portion of my athletes started their taper for the upcoming half marathon.  I have touched on tapering before but since I have been sending out lots of information on this topic, it reminded me that there is never anything wrong with some reminders on the do’s and don’ts of tapering.

Do Rest-  Now is the time to relish in all of the hard work you have put in during your training.  You have pushed your body pretty hard and the taper phase is the treat your body needs.  This rest time helps your body repair and load up for your upcoming race.

But Don’t Turn Into A Slug-  Rest is one thing.  But this is not the time to completely turn everything off.  While your body needs time to recover and get ready for the race, it does not need a total break.  In fact, kicking your feet up and sitting on the couch for the next two weeks will be detrimental to your performance.  As with anything in life, it is all about balance.


Do Hydrate and Eat Well-  Hopefully you have been hydrating well throughout your training.  So this part shouldn’t be very difficult.  But sometimes when we aren’t running as much we forget that our bodies need a lot of water.  By hydrating throughout your taper your body will be all set for race day.  Dehydration is one of the biggest factors that leads to cramping, stomach issues, and the dreaded wall.

This is also a great time to eat healthy foods that will help you perform well.  Lots of fruits and veggies along with protein are great.  And while you do need some carbohydrates you do not need to carbo load.  No, you do not need giant plates of pasta every night for dinner.  In fact, you likely do not even need that the night before your race.  Carbs a few days before a long endurance run are helpful.  But for a 5k, 10k, or possibly even a half marathon you do not need to stockpile carbohydrates.

Don’t Eat Like You Did During Training-  Oh this part about the taper just plain stinks.  Your hunger is still going wild.  Your body still wants you to feed it like you did when you were burning thousands of calories a day doing long, hard training runs.  Reign it in my friend.  Be aware of what your body needs.  It can be easy to pack on a few pounds during the taper and that can make you slow and sluggish!


Do Rest Like a Champion-  Sleep is one of your best tools of training.  A good night’s sleep (or several good night’s sleep) can really improve your training.  Especially as you get closer to race day make sure you are logging 7-9 hours, or whatever your body prefers.  Know that you will likely have a hard time sleeping the night before the big day.  But a few nights of good sleep leading up to it will get you through.

Do Stick to Your Plan-  Don’t panic and start trying to make up for lost time.  Sure you missed that 15 miler a few weeks ago.  But throwing it in now is not going to help your run.  In fact, it will likely leave your body more exhausted.  At this point your best bet is to stick with the remainder of your training plan and trust that it will get you through.


What is your best tapering advice?

30 thoughts on “Taper, Taper Time!

  1. Fantastic taper tips! The thing I have the hardest time with is trusting all the work that I’ve already put in. It’s so hard when things are out of your control like that! Oh and of course the dialing back on my eating, but I had a much easier time with that this past time than I did last year.

  2. I think tapering is so so hard. I always find myself thinking I’m not doing enough, or that somehow my body will totally forget how to run 20+ miles before my last long run and the marathon.

  3. This is really well written article. I have always tapered back for my half marathons.
    What really amazed me how our bodies responds to our hard training was last fall. I rolled an ankle 19 days before my 1st full marathon. For those 19 days I never ran or even walked more than 2 km. Made a decision the morning of to attempt the marathon with an ankle brace on. Took it easy, but completed the marathon an hour under the cut off time.

  4. It can be easy to pack on a few pounds during the taper and that can make you slow and sluggish!
    Actually, when tapering for an ultra I have to tell myself it’s okay to eat more. A little extra weight comes in handy when you’re on the trail all day – and sometimes all night too. One of the reasons I love running ultras.

  5. You pretty much covered it. My only advice is to expect the taper tantrums. Know that you will feel out of sorts as you shift gears and slow down. You will feel lazy and like a slug because all of a sudden your not busy all the time. It’s natural, happens to everyone and is to be expected.

  6. Great tips – and perfect timing for me! I actually don’t mind taper time. I can sleep in and don’t have to do those long hard workouts. Last marathon taper I was on honeymoon and this time we are in the middle of starting house hunting and we did some dog sitting this week. So my advice is to find something non-running related to keep you distracted for those couple of weeks.

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