After many, many miles ran and many, many hours spent running I reached 2 weeks to race day which on this occasion was when I would be starting my taper. A 2 week taper after 14 official training weeks would take me to the end of my 16 week programme.
There is lots of talk about whether a 1 week or 2 week taper is best but as this was probably the first time ever that I entered a taper on the back of a successful training period I do not feel that I can offer any expert opinion. However, one thing I feel strongly about is that you shouldn’t just get to your taper and think you don’t need to run. Your body adapts to the training demands placed upon it and I know that when I stop, my body feels weird as it wants to be active and moving. You just have to be sensible with what you decide to do in the taper week or weeks.
My taper week followed the same pattern of sessions but the biggest difference I felt was the removal of pressure on trying to hit a certain mileage and more focus on doing the sessions. I have talked a lot about aiming for 50 mile weeks so it was quite nice jus running and not worrying about the mileage I hit. However, this didn’t stop me having taper terrors.
I found that when I ran in this period I found myself completely panicking about every unusual feeling in my body during a run.
A slight ache in the hip. Oh no it’s going to go again.
A tight part in my foot. Argh. Plantar is back again.
My calf being stiff at the start of a run. I will never make it through a marathon without breaking.
I basically spent 2 weeks as a bag of nerves. It also didn’t help that I was on the Easter holidays for the whole two weeks. This meant my normal routine of cycling to work and being up and active all day was not happening. I spent my days focused around the running session. This may have been good in hindsight but it did feel a bit uncomfortable at the time.
Trying not to think about a marathon is hard, especially in the build up to a race, even more so in taper week. If I thought about it, I properly thought about.
I just kept reminding myself that I had a plan and we will accept whatever happens.
One night I dreamt I was at the start of the marathon, but had to queue up for my number. This took right up until the start of the race so I rushed to my pen. Then I saw that two elite runners were pacing my goal time but got into an argument and raced off early at much faster pace than they were meant to. Next thing I know is I’ve taken a turn down a road and gone the wrong way on my own. After a while I look back to see the other runners going the correct way.
Luckily this didn’t happen on race day but these thoughts all occur during taper weeks.
My advice is to do what feels right and try not to spend too much time thinking about it. You’re much better off having a chat about it then letting it stew in your mind.
Also, after getting to many taper weeks having to keep my training high, it is so good to reach one in good health. It is almost the holy grail of the actual marathon training. Reaching race day without missing runs through injury and illness.