And….We’re Tapering! Quick Tips To Survive Taper Madness

Holy smokes.  Where did the past 14 weeks go?!  We ran in Chicago, Aruba, Florida, and finally in Manhattan.  Now we are less than two weeks away from a nice long run in Pennsylvania.  Look out!

I have to say that this has been a relatively great training cycle.  Just like any other time, there have been struggles.  But I have tried to play it as smart as I possibly can by listening to my body and being aware of my pacing and not pushing too hard.  My personality prefers to ignore both of those plans.

Now that we are in the taper phase, there are a few important things to keep in mind.


Go ahead and keep eating.  But reign it in a bit and eat well.  I self diagnosed myself this weekend, after my long run, with a made up issue called DONS (Delayed Onset Non-stop Snacking).  I find that the day of my long run, my hunger stays pretty chill.  But come Saturday, I am ready to destroy everything in sight.

While longer mileage does allow you some leverage in the calorie department, it is also important to not go too crazy.  Marathon training does not give you carte blanche in the diet department, and some runners do end up putting weight on during training.  The truth is that your metabolism will go crazy.  You will become a calorie burning machine and you will be hungry all of the time.  But it is important to continue to fuel your body for training.  Go ahead and enjoy some dessert or have a helping of fries.  But you still need to consume lots of veggies, fruits, lean protein and whole grains.

Sleep!  I feel like such a hypocrite posting this one.  Right now we are holed up in a studio apartment in Manhattan.  This used to be no big deal in the past.  But now we have an almost 9 month old and a dog in the apartment with us.  When said 9 month old wakes up in the middle of the night from teething, everyone wakes up.  Sleep is at a premium these days and we aren’t getting it!

However, sleep is the key to staying healthy, alert, and strong.  Elite runners schedule afternoon naps daily.  It helps their bodies repair and recover.  Use that extra non-running taper time to catch some extra Z’s.

Rest, but don’t turn into a slug either.  Active movement is also key to keeping those legs strong and race ready.


Hydrate.  Hydration to me is one of the biggest keys to race day success.  It doesn’t take place in the hours leading up to a long run or training session.  Proper hydration begins days before those runs.  Therefore, you truly need to be hydrating all day, every day.  Not only will it help you run well but it also is part of the recovery process.  Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water.  From your muscles, to your brain and your heart, every organ requires water to function properly.

Carb carefully.  In the days leading up to your race, you might consider adding in some extra carbs.  It isn’t completely necessary and doesn’t require you to eat bowls of pasta and full pizzas.  A little extra whole grain at dinner or any other meal will help your body to store glycogen.  Do this for a few days leading up and then ease off the night before.

Trust your training.  You did the work.  The training is over.  There’s no sense in worrying now.  Relax, be proud of your hard work, and trust the process.  Stick to your plan and then have a great race!


How do you like to handle the taper phase?

8 thoughts on “And….We’re Tapering! Quick Tips To Survive Taper Madness

  1. haha @ Suz 🙂 So true!

    I think that a big thing for me was realizing that (a) tapering (and resting) is important and (b) it isn’t ‘the law’. So by keeping it as an important guideline rather than a pedantic rulebook, I could relax and enjoy it more – and if my runs don’t linearly decrease, oh well.

    I was also glad that I never really got into the ‘carbo loading’ thing … it always seemed counter to the ‘don’t mess with your routine’ advice, and so I just never did it.

    One bit of advice for people losing weight (or trying) heading into a race – taper week and race day are NOT good times to cut back or restrict! If you want good results, you need to accept that your body needs fuel stores, which means proper fuel and hydration plans. Crashing hard from under-fueling is every bit as fun as it sounds – and a feeling I still can bring to mind years later!

    • Oh yes. Great points. Don’t restrict during taper. You will possibly gain a pound or two but that is okay. Just don’t go nuts. And I am with you on carb loading. I think it can have a counter effect and end up slowing you down. Stick to what works.

  2. Great article! Having started running in my 50’s, I’ve finished three half marathons and headed to my first marathon. This article will be a great help. Thanks for posting!

  3. DONS. HAHAHA. YES. I HAVE THIS CONDITION.You are not alone!! These are all great tips.

    I am really sad to report that I am not going to be at Run for the Red. My friend and training partner, Kathy, is running the half though!!! It falls on the same day that my mom and I have tickets to see Cirque du Soliel in Philly. I am so bummed because you and another blogger I want to meet are running. I will be tracking you and cheering you on!!!!

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