I’m not an expert, but I have run three marathons. Tapering is super important to your race training, but is sometimes overlooked. Today I want to talk about common taper mistakes and how to avoid them.
When I first started training, I didn’t really realize the importance of the taper. I quickly learned that this 2-3 week period was incredibly important to my race day success.
What is the taper? The taper is the period of time between your longest training run and the race itself. For most marathoners this will be 2-3 weeks before the marathon. During this period of time your weekly mileage and long run mileage cut back and you “taper” your training.
Make Up For Lost Miles
Mistake: This is a biggest mistake that people make. If you missed a workout during your training cycle, forget about it. Now is not the time to make up for lost miles. Whether it’s a speed session or a long run, don’t try to cram it in. Your body needs time to recovery and be 100% for race day.
How To Avoid: One way to avoid the likelihood of missing an important long run is to make sure your training plan has more than one long run with serious mileage (18-22 miles). In some cases this might mean adding an additional week to your training plan, utilizing the cut back week strategy or ensuring that the buildup is solid. When I trained for my first marathon I was only able to train up to 19 miles and I had only run that distance once. Looking back I could have easily increased a 17 mile run to a 19 mile run so I could have at least gotten in two 19 mile runs during that training cycle.
Don’t Trust Your Training
Mistake: You spend the last weeks of your training stressing over each workout and compare notes with someone you know who is also training. This is a bit of a tag onto the item above, but now is not the time to compare mileage with someone else or dissect each run/workout. Accept where you are and move on. There’s nothing you can do in the last couple weeks before your race that will make a difference and wearing yourself out instead of resting will make for a miserable race day.
How To Avoid: Instead of looking at the workouts you missed or the bad runs celebrate the accomplishments of the cycle. Look back through your training journal and look at what you were able to make happen. Trust your training and know that you have already done the work. You ran the miles, lifted the weights and did the squats. As the old saying goes, “Your hay is in the barn”.
Pack On The Pounds
Mistake: You still eat like you were when you were training hard even though your activity level has decreased dramatically. Since the taper period usually lasts for 2-3 weeks, this can sometimes mean gaining weight. While I’m not one to stress over my weight, I don’t want to be carrying any more of it than I have to across the finish line.
How To Avoid: Eat mindfully. Don’t starve yourself, but be mindful of calories and your intake. Maybe this means a salad as a meal instead of a carbohydrate heavy dinner or less snacks throughout the day.
Don’t Rest Enough
Mistake: Many people don’t get enough rest during the taper period because they often feel the need to “catch up on life” since they have more free time. They find themselves wanting to visit family they haven’t been able to see, catch up on household chores that have been neglected or stay up late watching tv series they missed. All of these additional stresses and tasks can often translate into late bedtimes.
How To Avoid: Give your body the spa treatment by resting. Spend time off your feet, sleep in and do things to lower your stress. Your body has been working hard for months and you want to be fully rested on race day so you can reap the benefits of your hard training cycle.
Whether you are a repeat marathoner or it’s your first big race, you can do it! Don’t fall victim to these common mistakes and you will rock your race! Happy Running 🙂
How do you handle tapering?
Have you fallen into one of these?