Ahhh good old taper time… Where training takes a back seat and we let our aching body take a break.
As a long distance runner, that sentence actually makes me quiver; but why so, when most would love the idea of a break? It’s a time to eat lots of wholesome foods, rest those tootsies up for a short while, before enduring ourselves within a very long, stressful morning of running.
Doesn’t that sound DELIGHTFUL? Well, actually, it is the time when nerves are at an all time high; we don’t know what the hell to do with ourselves. Once before, our timetable was PACKED full. Running for dayssssss, getting up at silly ‘o’ clock for fast paced 5KMs, hill sprints… The list goes on, but now we can not do those things in fear of a wild injury (unless we are experts in the matter). This time is just a case of ticking along.
Tapering refers to the reduction of exercise before a race, and is believed to be essential for peak running performance.
Although we know that this time is very much-needed, it is also when runners seem to ‘lose it’ a little. Heard of the term maranoia?
We don’t know what to do with ourselves and holding back is a nightmare. It takes MONTHS, and some of us, years to train for a big event, and now we’re told to chill out… It is something us runners don’t do very well – I’ll say that for all of us.
I try to enjoy it, you know, it’s the first time in a while I don’t have to worry about getting up and going for a long run, or push boundaries in speed work, tackling hills at a ridiculously fast pace. What’s not to love? However, our mind is still in overdrive. We can not just ‘shut off’ the fact that running has become OUR WHOLE DAMN LIVES and now, we need to focus on the down time.
After much thought, I decided to go through the reasons why this ‘tough time’ was incredibly important for runners in the lead up to a race. Here are three tips on how to get through the taper time.
- Remember why you’re doing this.
Whether you’re running for charity, a particular person, for your own goals, or just because it’s a challenge you set for yourself; continue to go through the reasons as to why you’re racing this distance. Having the thoughts in mind as to why it is so important to be at your best for this specified date will keep you going when rest is on the calendar (instead of that pesky ten miler you had last week).
2. There are other races to train for.
If you are losing it because your routine is completely different, just remember, that there is ALWAYS another time to get back into training mode. There will always be another race and there will be heights in other situations; so roll with the feels and take a pew with a brew. There won’t be much of THIS if you get stuck into the train-hard life, so enjoy!
3. Distract yourself.
If it is because your body is used to moving around so much (and you’re getting all ansy) then find a low intensity form of training, like swimming for example. Do NOT try anything new, I might add, however it is good to still get the cardio in, so your training doesn’t go completely off the radar. Walking, basic body weight, and certain gym classes may take in a new home within your weekly plan, which is great! Distract your mind and body in doing similar activities at a lower volume/intense level. It will be good to keep active, however don’t fall into the trap of over training on taper time.
Also, this is not the time to finally take up rock climbing (for example) if it is brand new to you. Do not risk injury in the essential part of your training programme.
How do you get through the taper?