I wrote this post when I had 5 more weeks until my first marathon. Which means I was staring down the barrel of a taper. And I’ll be honest I hadn’t done a full taper since my first half marathon a year before that. Because I do not like it. But it’s not negotiable with a marathon. With a half you can get away with a minimal taper, with a marathon? Not so much.
Burning questions that tend to arise on a taper include:
1) Why is everyone in the universe so irritating? And why do I have an urge to kill people?
2) Why do I resemble a human garbage can and why am I eating for a small nation?
3) Would we even really consider 15km to be a ‘long run’?! Really?!
4) Why do I sign up for races? Races are stupid.
5) Why do I suddenly have five million phantom injuries and the plague of death/cold/man flu?
Actual, scientific benefit of the taper
Unfortunately, the fact that I feel like I really want to go for more of a run doesn’t trump the fact that a good taper does the following things:
1) Bolster muscle power
2) Increase muscle glycogen
3) Aid muscle repair
4) Freshen the mind
5) Fine tune the neural network so it is working efficiently
6) Eliminate the risk of overtraining
7) Improve performance by 6-20%
DAMN YOU SCIENCE, DAMN YOU!!
Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about this just yet – give me a year or two and it may be something that comes into play !!!
Good luck with getting it right !
What is a taper?
Zoey Martin says
It’s usually done before a half marathon or marathon race where you reduce the volume of your mileage. So in the first week you might reduce by 20% and the second by 50%. It’s designed to give your a body a rest so you are 100% for a race.
Phantom injuries – tick. Flu-like symptoms – tick. Eating for a small nation – tick.
However my favourite part is the “OMG I have completely forgotten how to run” freak-out the week of the race. I always have a meltdown and believe I have lost all ability to put one foot in front of the other and then panic that my training just wasn’t good enough. “OMG I won’t be able to run 5km let along 42km” “What is running?” “My legs don’t work” “WTF have I done” “Nup I’m pulling out because it will be so embarrassing not being able to finish” then I start and I’m like “hell yeah I’ve got this!”
I sometimes wonder why the hell I willingly put myself through all of the stress and inevitable anxiety of signing up to a race but then remember I love medals and the feeling of crossing the line can’t be topped 🙂 I’ve got a half next Sunday which for obvious reasons I have no intention of trying to reach a PB but I cannot wait to cross that line and feel elated about completing yet another run which I once thought was impossible 🙂