A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Officially tapering!

on February 11, 2014

As of Monday morning, I am officially in the “taper” part of my half marathon training plan. Tapering is a period in which you cut back on the length, time and intensity of workouts in the days to weeks before a race. This time period allows you to rest, any minor injuries to heal and for you to optimize hydration and glycogen stores. Just like rest days are an important of training weeks to gain strength and recover from workouts, tapering is important for optimal performance in a race so that you can heal and rebuild your energy stores.

The length of time that you taper depends on several different factors. The most important factor is going to be your personal experience with tapering. Over time, with repeated races, most people figure out what kind of taper works best for them. Another factor is going to be the purpose of the race. Is this a big goal race? A new distance? Or just a run for fun or training that happens to technically be a race? For either of the first two, you may want a longer taper period whereas you may need little to no taper for the latter option. Because this is my first half marathon (and because I’m feeling burnt out on the training plan for the last couple of weeks), I planned for a two week taper prior to the race. That means my last long run was last week and for the next two weeks, I have shorter runs planned. Depending on the training plan, there may be different approaches to the taper period, but generally you’re looking at a decrease in mileage of 50% or more. Decreasing mileage doesn’t mean obliterating runs entirely. Not only would I start to feel stir crazy from the lack of workouts, most experts recommend continuing to get in short, quality workouts to keep things loose. The Galloway training plan for the PHM does recommend rest days for two days before the half marathon, but I may or may not stick to that. If the weather keeps going the way it has, I won’t be able to run outside again until Florida! If that’s the case, I definitely need to get at least a short run in once we get to Florida to work the kinks out after almost a month relegated to the treadmill.

Looking forward to running on the road rather than this thing!

Looking forward to running on the road rather than this thing!

I’m used to seeing lots of Activity Points in my tracker thanks to my running and I will have to remind myself that this rest is useful, not laziness or a way to regain 100 pounds. Yes, I will probably gain some weight, but that’s okay. I should be gaining a little because I’ll be optimizing my hydration and also bulking up glycogen stores, which can lead to same weight gain to water retention. I want to be careful about overdoing in the eating department though, because I will be burning fewer calories than usual and I don’t want to carry too many extra pounds for 13 miles! I’ll also keep up some gentle cross training, like walking and yoga.

The most important thing to remember is that the training is done. What happens on February 23 is going to be the result of the last several months of training, not the last two weeks before the race. This is not a time to worry about the runs I skipped or shorted (even though there have only been a few, I suspect they’re going to haunt me for the next two weeks!). Trying to shove those in now won’t really affect my performance in any positive way and instead puts me at risk of getting injured before the race or exhausting the stores I’m supposed to be bulking up during this time period.

Somewhat thankfully, I am on call this week, then traveling to Indiana for a long weekend for my godson’s baptism and then coming back here for a frantic rush to pack before leaving for Florida. All of that activity will hopefully keep me distracted enough not to feel stir crazy from a lack of runs and avoid the temptation of pushing too hard. Truthfully, I’m glad it is going to be cold in South Bend this weekend so I’m not tempted to overdo it on a long run on new running routes (my new favorite thing to do when I travel).

This is my first real taper, so we’ll see how it goes. How long do you taper for a half marathon? Do you have trouble feeling antsy without workouts during this time?

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19 responses to “Officially tapering!

  1. Good luck with tapering and your race. I taper for a week before a half, however I still run/cross train. Yes it makes me a bit antsy but since I’m still staying active it’s not too bad.

    • I think I’ll be doing lots of cross training to work the kinks out. I think I’ll like using some of the time I’ve freed up from big runs to get back to things like Zumba that I’ve been missing while on the training plan. 🙂

      Sent from my iPad

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  2. Kristin says:

    Tapering…I remember tapering for all of my swim meets when I was young and LOVING IT!!! However now that I’m older, it just makes me antsy (especially with running). GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TAPER!!! Try to relax, enjoy, and thank about your race coming up (advice I need to take myself). 🙂 🙂

  3. Yay tapertime!!! Ok, it’s yay this morning but ask me in a day or two. LOL. I’m taking it very easy, my knees are FINE after my long run but now my foot is giving me trouble! I swear, I’m just a physical wreck, no clue why. I’m just glad it’s time to taper and I know I’ll be ready for the race, that last long run made me realize that I’ll be fine. I had to take it easy for 4 weeks and I still had a great 10 mile run, so I know in 2 weeks it will be the same if I get some short runs in. 12 days!!!!!!!!!

  4. Good luck with tapering and your upcoming race! I can’t wait to follow your weekend for the race!

  5. Honestly, I LOVE taper time. It means that the hardest part of training is over, and I can now look forward to the awesome time I’m going to have at whatever race is coming up! I think 2 weeks is a great amount of time for a half. My marathon taper time is 3 weeks, which I think is appropriate as well, especially since it’ll be my first one. I will still do yoga of course during the taper, and also extra foam rolling and stretching. Enjoy it, and have fun in Indiana! :0)

  6. ckaufman89 says:

    I’ve run 2 half marathons, each with a one-week taper. In both cases I mostly felt weird to be working out so little after working out so hard. I do get antsy in general, though, when I can’t work out very much, and specifically get a feeling that is similar to what you describe (afraid I am being lazy and will gain 100 lbs back).

    I will say that lowering the intensity of workouts and getting enough to eat are important, though. Before my first half I somehow just could not eat enough and I lost like 5-10 lbs; I looked unhealthy (and I was); before my second half I made sure to do better with eating enough to fuel my workouts and at first felt like I must be doing something “wrong” because I was maintaining my weight, but I did just as well even though it was a much more difficult race! I also did not run into any health problems or injure myself that time around. So even though I felt like “lazy failure” in retrospect I made the right choices that time and would do the same again.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I love hearing about how it works for others with more experience since I’m so new to this. It’s good to know that the “lazy” feeling is normal. 🙂

  7. I am so excited for you, Jessica! I can’t believe you are in taper mode and very soon, all of your hard work will pay off! I know it is hard not to be nervous and to not second guess yourself and missed runs or short runs, but have faith in yourself and in your training. You are more than ready for this! You got this! 🙂 I guess I will find out soon enough what works for me as far as tapering goes. I’ll let you know at the end of March. 🙂

    • I’ll definitely let you know how this works out for me! Right now I feel like I may taking it a little too easy since I haven’t been out for a run since Sunday between the weather and my job!

      On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 10:24 PM, A Little More Each Day wrote:

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