So, be honest, how many of your runners just groaned and shuddered when you saw the word taper. Gross, right?!
So, what is a taper?
Everyone’s performance can benefit from a good taper, which is a carefully planned period of reduced training. This gradual easing up allows your body to disperse the residual fatigue products that have been carried from one workout to another. The extra recovery and regeneration that can occur during a taper result in what is called peaking.
The biggest complaint I get about tapering is that people often feel extremely restless during this period they feel like they should be doing more. Don’t. The beginning of the taper period signifies the end of training and the beginning of competition preparation and any hard training done during this period will do more to hurt your performance than help it because you won’t recover fast enough. A good taper will make you feel like a horse in the gate at the start of the race for the few days before your event. It is the feeling of peak fitness; use it to your advantage.
(From John Stanton’s marathon training program)
So, right now I’m kinda sorta running, but not really and it’s driving me crazy!
I’m definitely experiencing the restlessness and have a major itch to go out and run but I also know resting my body will allow it to perform better on race day.
PS – race day is in three days. THREE!!!!!!
When I was a competitive swimming, I also hated the taper. I hated it. But, I’m weird. I was the one who would go to meet right after hell week and pull out a PR in an event. That said, my body performs exceptionally well under stress, so I usually keep my taper to 1-2 weeks and not the recommended 3 because my body likes stress.
This is probably a great example not doing what I do. I’ve been competitive for a while and know what my body likes. That said, a marathon is a completely different beast, so I’m not sure how my taper will work for my race. I do know I’ve trained well and have done all I can do up to this point.
Remember, nothing you do in the final week will help you, but everything you do can hinder your performance.