Trust The Taper

Holy smokes!  As I am about to send out this post, marathoning has gotten super real again, you guys.  I registered for Grandma’s Marathon 2016 yesterday.  I shall heed my own advice when the time comes.

So the taper…..This is the part of training where some athletes fall back in love with training (it’s awesome) or they start to hate training all over again (they can’t stand it).  Truth is, some runners love seeing the decrease in their mileage as the race approaches.  Others start to feel antsy or panicky as they find themselves on their feet a lot less.

Many athletes ask me how they will possibly finish a marathon if they have two weeks where the mileage seemingly disappears.  The key is, you have to trust the taper.  It is there for a reason.  It is just as much an integral part of your training as the building up of mileage was, or those long weekend runs, or the speed work.  It is a proven portion of training; almost a scientific method.


While it was necessary to build your mileage, endurance, and ability to use glycogen more efficiently.  It is also just as important for your body to now rest and repair.  The amount of time you would find yourself tapering for is generally around two weeks, and this is the perfect amount of time to allow your body to restore itself without loosing endurance.

If you find yourself questioning if that time “off” will leave you out of shape for the big race, it is important to step back and examine the situation.  Just about every athlete from beginner to elite, tapers.  They do it for a reason and you have to trust that.  You are not a super hero.  Your body won’t be the only one that loses its endurance and at the same time your body isn’t the one super power force that won’t get injured by powering through.  Trust the process.

This doesn’t mean you should sit on the couch all day and just kick your feet up.  Short and easy runs are still necessary to maintain endurance.  And staying on your feet a bit is important too.  Go out and go for a walk (maybe to get ice cream?!).  Go ahead and do an easy bike ride or a nice restorative yoga class.  You will most definitely be out of shape come race day if you take two weeks off and just sit around eating that ice cream

PatrickSawhill7.6.Dealing with the tail end of some injuries or aches?  Go ahead and take a little extra time off.  Skip a run if your legs are really achy.  Get a massage.  Wear those compression sleeves at night.  Let your body heal and repair.

Make sure you use this time to get lots of sleep, hydrate a lot, and eat really well.  Try to get an extra half hour to an hour of rest each night.  This will help when you can’t sleep the night before the race.  Drink lots of water to get that body prepped for race day.  Eat lots of bright red and green fruits and veggies to help the body repair.

And then relax and trust the process.

What is your best taper advice?

Good luck to everyone running races this weekend.  A special good luck goes out to Chantelle who is running the Wineglass Marathon!

20 thoughts on “Trust The Taper

  1. Wise words! I always do a double take looking at marathon plans when they get to the taper stage, but this makes sense. I have this fear of losing fitness if I miss 2-3 runs due to weather or sickness. It’s silly – the body deserves more credit. Didn’t know compression sleeves can help with recovery. Thank you!

  2. WOW do you read my mind? Well, first of all CONGRATS on registering for Gmas! That was not my best race last year but I did love it. Have you done it? I’m excited for you! Second. I do LOVE the taper, especially this time around but I am nervous. My peak week was 75, then it dropped down to 53, now 44, and then next week is the week of the race. I’m nervous because the mileage is low and my body still feels a bit crappy in general. But I also still have a full week to go. I’m starting to feel a little better on my runs and enjoy them more again, but the cumulative fatigue is certainly there. I’m not just winging this and I am following good ole Pfitzinger, so I need to keep re reading your post. Trust the taper. I LIKE the mileage I’m running (much less pressure) and you don’t have to convince me to do less, but what if I’m not doing enough? Ugh. The struggle is REAL, my friend. When will you begin training for Gmas? February? March?

    • My husband did Grandma’s last year. So I was there and he said it is a great race. Pfitzinger is some serious mileage. And it is totally normal in the first week of taper to feel overly exhausted. I liken it to your body breathing out a huge sigh of relief. I am sure by next week you will start feeling refreshed. So excited for you and your race 🙂 I think I will start training in mid to late February. Yikes, so scary!

  3. I’ve heard such great things about Grandmas. Though the weather was ridiculous this year. Ah taper. My taper is not quite as taperific as I might like it to be because of a few engagements that I have. I’m running a bit more than I would desire, but luckily I’m not racing racing this one. Otherwise I might be way more worried!

    • Yes, that downpour at the start of Grandma’s this past year was nuts. I was on a treadmill looking outside and feeling rather guilty that I was there and they were in the middle of it!

  4. This was just the post I needed to read! Though I’ve never tapered for my half marathons since using Hal’s training plans – they don’t call for a taper. Since I got injured a few weeks ago and had to modify my workouts I’m feeling (right now) it’s just what my body needed – a taper. So, I’m building back up and looking forward to my up coming races now that I feel solid and less injured 😉

  5. I know a lot of people running Grandmas. I think I’ve decided to run the WISC marathon in the spring. I’m really excited to get back into training.

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