Today was my last 20-mile run and if you’ve been through a marathon training program you know what that means: taper’s coming!
Tapering is gradually scaling back mileage in the last month or so before a marathon (about two weeks for a half), so your body can regenerate and absorb all the goodness of your hard training. This way, come race day you’re all fresh and bouncy, your legs eager to go!
Many runners hate tapering because it makes them feel sluggish and lazy. Not me. Here are my top three ways to make the most out of those taper weeks.
1. Embrace the slug!
After hundreds of miles, your body needs a break. That doesn’t mean you’ll spend a month on the couch, of course. Most marathon programs still have at least one 13+ mile long run and a few interval or tempo sessions mixed in. But unless you’re an elite runner, you’re done with the three-hour-plus runs. Enjoy!
2. Spruce it up
If you feel you’re getting bored, give your body something different or exciting to do. Sign up for a race (I’m running a half marathon next weekend), but take it easy: going all out will do you no good. Or focus on cross training: at this point, you may find that swimming or yoga are just what you need.
3. Take a vacation
If you can take the time off (and afford it financially), now is the best time to take a vacation. Nothing like lying on the beach to rest the body and the mind properly!
I wasn’t sure how badly my back would hurt on this run, so I’d given myself permission to cut it down to 10 miles, if needed. (Plus, instead of taking a rest day yesterday, I did tri-training: 2 miles of running, including some sprints; 4 miles biking + 30 minutes spin; and 500 yard swim). The Last Hurrah, indeed.
Surprisingly, what started out as mild discomfort today somehow went away around mile seven. I’ll take it! No pain for the remaining 13 miles, other than tight hamstrings and IT bands, but that’s pretty much a given for the distance.
After 20 miles, give me sugar and caffeine!
I was craving that Coke during my last five miles like it was coke, I tell you. For the marathon, I’m thinking of asking my cheering committee to wait for me at around mile 19 with a can (heck, a 2-liter bottle might be even better).
Do you ever drink Coke during races? How do you handle the carbonation?