Tuesday Topics: Taper time, love it or hate it?

I am linking up again with  Kookyrunner and Zenaida  for Tuesday Topics and we’re talking about taper time before races.

The first time I trained for a long-distance race, I thought I had to follow the training plan to the T, and that included taper time. Even though I wanted to trust the training plan and was afraid to skip a workout or move workouts around (you live and learn, friends!) and diligently clung to the rest of the training plan, taper time seemed counterintuitive. I didn’t hate it, but it freaked me out.

I felt like my level of fitness and endurance that I had worked so hard for over the last few weeks would disappear instantly, even though I remembered from my training theory classes during my P.E. education that this wouldn’t be the case. But still.

What do you mean, I reduce my mileage and only have to run 2 miles today??

I felt that this wasn’t a good idea after I had been logging so many miles (more than I could have ever imagined) the previous weeks and I was afraid that taper week would ruin my momentum.

BUT: Sometimes your feelings can be wrong and I’ve learned first hand (over and over) that this is not the case and that the taper really gets your body ready for the race. 

Yes, there are a gazillion different factors that can make or break race day for you, but taper time really is not one of them. 

I first realized this when I was forced to take a training break due to a bumped toe. Granted, it wasn’t really a taper, but an interruption of my training routine and I thought if I took a few days off, I’d have to start from scratch. But strangely enough, the first run after a week or so off, I felt surprisingly strong and energetic. And I imagine that is what taper time does for your race readiness. You get some rest in the week leading up to a race, so that your body is ready to perform. 

Here’s an article that I had bookmarked a while ago, when I contemplated if tapering was really necessary. I think it explains pretty well why taper is so good.

Honestly, I embrace it now, even look forward to it in every training cycle.

How do you feel about taper time?

  1. I had the same feeling last year. I really really wanted to run more the week before the race. This time I am looking forward to it… I am really tired these days and will enjoy shorter runs and some more quiet mornings with more sleep. ;)
    2 1/2 weeks to go….Eeeeeks!

    1. So excited for you and can’t wait to hear all about your first HM!!!

  2. I’m not much of a runner anymore, but I do remember it seemed to help when we scheduled a break or two in our weekly runs.

    1. I guess rest-days could be considered “mini-tapers”… definitely important! ;)

  3. I fall into the “love taper” camp. I love using the extra time to do extra stretching and resting. At first it feels weird to run less miles, but I quickly got over it, lol

    1. I definitely got over it quickly, too ;)

  4. I totally embrace taper, too!!! It’s like a big reward for having all done all the work in getting there.

    1. Yes, that is such a good point, Kim, it totally is a reward!

  5. I also embrace it. But I do agree that it is to easy to freak out knowing that you have to run 2 or 3 miles when in the past you’ve run 10, 11, 12, 13, etc miles.

  6. It is funny how we all think our fitness will disappear right before our race!

  7. I have to admit that I still have a tendency to cling tightly to a plan, although I have also gotten much better about that — because I’ve had lots of plans interrupted by life! Life happens!

    1. Sticking to a plan definitely makes me feel more in control, but sometimes life does happen!

  8. I have only really tapered for marathons. For half marathons or 10 mile races I usually just made sure I rested for the 2-3 days before the race and didn’t run. But for marathons I followed my club’s taper plan. I had a love/hate relationship with it. It was really nice to have a break from the 20+ mile runs but sometimes I felt more achy during taper time. I think it’s a mental thing, though, as there was no reason to be achy since I was running fewer miles!

  9. It should come as a shock to no one that I am not a runner (lol), but I imagine taper time is important to help muscles recover and rest before a big race. Thanks so much for sharing this, San! Never heard of this before but always love to love to hear about different workout routines.

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