Train and Prepare for the love of it, and the event will feel like the icing on the cake.- Joasia Zakrzewski
You’ve done the physical work required to get you to the start line, from here on out it’s all mental strength.
To taper means to wind down your exercise, reducing the amount you are doing before the big race. Depending on what your training program looks like and what your goals are, this could mean a slight reduction in mileage and an added rest day, or a few days of complete rest with gentle walking. For the past six weeks you have been pushing yourself to do more, this week is all about doing less.
For the first few days you will be feeling great as your legs get a much needed break from all the walking and running. Then your feet will start to get a little itchy, you’ll have a lot of pent up energy and you’ll start to get nervous about the race. Have I trained enough? Are my shoes going to hold together until race day? What if there is a traffic jam and I don’t make it to the start line?
Don’t panic! Here are a few productive things that you can do in taper week.
Sleep! Hit the snooze button now that you don’t have to get up for those early morning walks and runs. Get enough rest each night this week because you might be that nervous that you can’t sleep a lot the night before the race.
You need fuel before the race, for the half marathoners you should be eating a lot of carbs at this point. The night before the race, have a good meal but don’t stuff yourself; no all-you-can-eat buffets please, those are for after the race. They give out bananas at the finish line but they aren’t baked and covered in cinnamon sugar, so grab yourself a donut from the Hataitai Hot Bread Shop after the race too.
Cut your toenails. Please, cut your toenails. If you neglect to do this you may wind up with sore and bloodied feet so to fill in time during your taper, reach for the clippers and sort out your feet.
If you absolutely have to exercise, do something relaxed. Try swimming, walking, or a low intensity class like BODYBALANCE®.
Recall every training session that you ever missed, think about every tiny niggle that you are sure will turn in to a full blown injury within the first kilometre of the race. Think about everything that has and that could possibly go wrong. Realise how ridiculous this is and think positive!
Visualization is powerful! Think about how it will feel when you cross that finish line, when you achieve the goal that you have worked hard for.
Watch some inspirational videos
- Athletes, cardiologists, mothers, contractors, and cancer survivors all make up the Finishers of the Los Angeles Marathon.
- Share Stephen Kiprotich’s happiness at winning the Olympic Marathon is 2012, Uganda’s first gold medal in 40 years!
- Watch the amazing colourful Brazilian athlete Terezinha Guilhermina winning the Olympic 200m T11 final in 2012.
Make it your goal to enjoy the run and walk on Sunday. Encourage your fellow runners with a high five or a cheer, chat to the people walking beside you, try to get a quick word in as the race leader speeds past you doubling back on the course. You’ve already inspired people just by committing to the race, get through the day with a smile (not just for the photographers), the event really is the icing on the cake!