Last Saturday I went for *only* a 7 mile run. It was taper week (or really weeks, but leading into my last week), so I found myself saying weird things like “I only have to run for an hour today.” As of when I originally started writing this, Christmas in July 12-hour race is just less than a week away – July 14th – and I am nervous, excited, and ready all at once. I’ve been on vacation from work this week over the July 4th holiday, just relaxing at home with the kids and taking full advantage of this taper. The following week is a series of 3-ish mile runs that feel way too easy given all of the mileage I’ve been putting in for countless months. To avoid getting a full blown set of taper crazies here’s what I do to take full advantage and embrace this period of training.
5 Things I do During a Taper
- Embrace sleeping in. Even if sleeping in is only 15-20 extra minutes in the morning, I take advantage where I can instead of trying to fill those minutes with extra “stuff”. This is the period of time where you need to let your body absorb all of the training you have been doing and getting enough sleep is a big part of that.
- Keep up with Yoga. I am convinced that yoga, as well as regular monthly to e/o monthly visits with my chiropractor, help keep me from getting injured. On scheduled rest days, I take them as active rest by doing yoga that is truly restorative. Runner’s World Yoga for Runners videos and Jasyoga are both great options and ideal for athletes. As runners we get all of our hard workout via running and strength so we don’t need to add more of it with intense yoga. We need relaxing, restorative yoga to stretch out our muscles and keep our mobility in tip-top form to avoid overuse injuries.
- Foam Rolling. I admit I’m not that good with keeping up with a regular foam rolling routine. See above for yoga, so I feel like I’m keep my mobility where it needs to be. Taper weeks are where my mind seems to imagine all sorts of aches and pangs where there were none before, so I foam roll those areas that are yelling at me. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone – healthy happy muscles and calms the mind. A general routine will only take about 5-10 minutes so it can easily be done after a run or even at night while watching TV.
- Plan for Race Day. I use some of that extra weekend time, with my runs cut almost in half, making lists of what I need for race day so that I’m not scrambling at the last minute. This is even more important for an ultra because there is just SO. MUCH. STUFF. that you need to bring! It’s helped me figure out what I have versus what I need to buy so that the morning of race day (my race starts at night) won’t be filled with errands.
- Hydrate. I make a point at keeping up with my hydration, making sure I’m getting enough water each day. I’m a coffee drinker so I will easily choose a couple cups of coffee in the afternoon, making it easy to forget to get water. During this time I make a point at filling up a large water bottle (about 20 oz) at work and trying to make sure I have to refill it once.