How to taper

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Are you training for a half or full marathon? If so, is it your first? Have you heard of tapering? Do you know what taper means? If not, continue reading as this can and will change your life! #welcometothetaper

I’m currently training for my first full marathon, but I’ve ran two half-marathons. The first one was in October 2015 and I did not taper. I didn’t know what taper meant. So, I ran 10 miles the weekend before, then ran a little bit during the week of the race, then did the 13.1 miles. My time was pretty decent, about 2 hours 45 minutes. But the recovery was terrible. The rest of the day after the race, and the next few days I was in a lot of pain. Sore, but of the bad variety. It was then that I thought I could never do a full. And wasn’t sure I’d want to do another half.

Fast forward a year later, I decide to finally check something off my bucket list: run a Disney race. I ask my running friend Sarah to train and run it with me, and we register for the Star Wars half in April 2017. This time around, we’re given advice to taper. And we listen.

What this meant for us: we did our standard training which basically was one long run a week, slowly increasing the miles over about 3 to 4 months from 5 miles (our starting long runs) to 10 miles. The longest we ran before the race was 10 miles, two weeks prior to the race instead of one week like last time. Those last two weeks before Disney were key: after the ten miles, we kept the runs short during the week. The weekend before the race we didn’t even run together, we kept it light and easy with a 45 minute run. The week before Disney, I ran once or twice for only 3 miles at a time. The other days I took it easy at the gym and rested up for the upcoming 13.1 miles in the Florida heat with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader.

While our time was longer for the Star Wars Half, coming in at 2 hours 51 minutes, we both felt much better this time around. Recovery was a breeze. It may have helped that we walked a lot both the day before and the day after the race since we were at Disney and Universal. But I noticed a huge difference in how I felt even right after the race itself. While I was sore, it was a good sore this time. And I didn’t feel like dying like the first time around.

My current training plan for the marathon includes two weeks of tapering as well. What it looks like: 3 weeks before the marathon I run 20 miles (the longest we run before the race). Then during the taper, the mileage decreases: 12 miles two weeks out, 8 miles one week out, then only a few miles the week of the race. I actually will likely even tweak the training and run a little less than everyone else, which is what I’ve already been doing. I’ve only been running 3 days a week, whereas the schedule calls for 4 days a week. I’m still getting my miles in: I do the long runs as scheduled, I just do the weekday runs a little differently.

How do you train? Do you taper? What’s your taper plan look like?

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