We’re just 16 days out from the NYC Marathon! I just got my official race handbook in the mail yesterday. While I’m super excited for race day, I think I’m equally as excited to taper. When I started training for my first marathon last fall, I read every blog and website there was about training schedules and preparing for your race. I came across a lot of articles about tapering, but every one seemed to suggest something different. The basic idea is to start tapering your runs as you get closer to race day, to give your muscles a break and start the marathon with fresh legs. On the one hand, it makes sense. On the other hand, I was quite concerned about how much stamina I’d lose without doing any super long runs for the last few weeks of training. Despite my trepidations, I followed my plan last year and discovered tapering is the best thing ever.
After a four month cycle of waking up before the sun every morning to run, it’s hard not be burnt out. You plan your life around your runs — what you eat, when you sleep, when you can socialize. Having a bit of a break before your race day not only does wonders for your muscles, but it’s a huge mental boost. I start my taper three weeks before race day. I did a 22-mile run this past weekend, and that’s it for the long runs. I’m doing a half marathon this weekend and then an easy 10 miles the weekend before the race. My weekday runs will go from 10 miles down to eight, then six, then four. I focus on my breathing and form, rather than my speed.
I am already so much happier getting the extra sleep and relaxation, and not having a huge run looming over my weekend plans. Tapering is also a really amazing boost to my confidence. At the beginning of my training cycle, building up to the longer runs is tough. My weekday runs are pretty slow, and I definitely feel like I worked hard. But after four months of work, the eight miles in the morning is almost effortless. I’ve taken a minute off my pace, and it doesn’t feel like I’m pushing myself. It’s a great way to realize how far you’ve come and how ready you are for the race.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be relaxing, hydrating, and trying to make every meal count. As much as I’m excited for the race, I’m excited to have a life again after it’s over, and be able to do non-running workouts more often.