Every runner has heard the word ‘taper’; and if you’re like me, you CRINGE! Just the thought of not being allowed to perform your regular exercises, especially cutting back on running. When it’s your passion, and someone says, ‘now don’t do it as much, or at as high of an intensity’ you shudder. However, tapering is good for you in so many ways, it really prepares you for your race. It allows your body time to recover, repair, and conserve energy.
Tapering should start about 2 weeks before your race; this does vary by racer, beginner, intermediate, advanced, some people are okay with 1 week. Listen to your body; if this is your first race, stick with the 2 week rule. You’re going to cut back on your mileage, your speed, and your frequency. DON’T WORRY! You can still move, go for a bike ride, walk the dogs, swim, but on your rest days, do just that REST!
I’m sure many of you have been following training programs, or perhaps you’re old pros and know all about this. But either way, tapering isn’t just good for your muscles and recovery, it’s good for your mind. It allows you to think and prepare for the upcoming race. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. Those of you who know me, I typically have one speed, GO and FAST; the only time I’m not moving is in my sleep! Although my husband may argue that … he’s pretty sure I run in it too!
Since we’re just past the 2 week mark, if you haven’t started tapering, or thinking about it, nows the time. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are; think of all the miles, all the interval training, all the dedication you’ve put towards June 1 (or what ever race you’re doing). Be proud of yourself, and reflect on that as you take the next few days to give your body a little rest before you push the envelope at the start line!
Wishing you all happy taper week!