My first half marathon for 2014 is in less than two weeks. I’m running the Rock N Roll USA half with 1000s of my closest friends. Or 15 or so moms from Moms Run This Town. Whichever.
The big discussion lately has been about tapering. How much? How long? Should you really do it?
Personally, I love the taper. And I’ve seen how well it works. For both of my marathons, I followed Hal Higdon’s training plans and tapered exactly as he recommended. I arrived at the start line fresh and ready to go.
I won’t be tapering for this race. In fact, I’ll be running two of my highest mileage weeks leading up to this race. I also won’t be *racing* this race. My current focus is on running the five half marathons in five days. To do that, my mileage needs to be high and it needs to include a half marathon length run. Might as well run a race with friends – it’s a lot more fun than running in circles in my neighborhood for hours (or on my treadmill in front of the Today Show.)
But I’d taper if I could.
1. Trust your training. I can’t emphasize this one enough. You’ve done the training. Your body is ready, it just needs some rest. And if you haven’t hit your training runs? “Cramming” does not work with running. You may not need to taper as much, but you still need to taper.
2. Enjoy the free time. You’ve been running a lot lately. Enjoy having some time to pamper yourself in other ways. Give some of that time back to your family, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too.
3. Get in a little short speedwork. If this is one of your first longer races, you’ve likely been focusing on long and slow. Pick up the pace a bit on a few runs and get a feel for a quicker turnover. Enjoy the feeling of speed you may not have felt in a while. (That said, don’t over do it.)
4. Keep eating healthy. Make sure you are getting plenty of healthy protein and carbs. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. OK, don’t go crazy with that, but arriving at race day properly hydrated and fueled will help with any race day mistakes.
5. Rest. The whole point of tapering is to allow your body to recover from all the training and be ready. Give it that opportunity. Don’t go crazy cross training, especially if you haven’t done a lot of cross training in the past. Get your sleep. The night before the race is often not a great sleep night, so get your sleep before then. If you are well-rested going into that night, you will be fine even if race night = no sleep.
Do you love or hate the taper? What do you do to treat yourself during that time? I’m more than a little jealous of those of you tapering, mostly because I’m tired of the treadmill. I’m pretty sure my treadmill is going to break up with me soon.