Wanted: Taper Tips

Happy Friday, all!

So, last weekend we tackled the big kahuna in any marathon training plan. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…



We just think we’re so clever, lol.

Honestly, it wasn’t our best long run. Granted, it definitely wasn’t the WORST either. We tackled the 20 miles in my old stomping ground of Kenilworth/Cranford, which I loved because there are so many parks and there were tons of people out and about because the weather was BEAUTIFUL.

However, with spring-like temperatures finally here, I could tell right from the beginning that the warmer weather was going to take its toll on my performance. It was only in the 60s, but given the fact that we’ve been training in the 20s, 30s, and 40s all this time, it felt like a HUGE temperature difference. And ya’ll know how I feel about running once it starts getting warmer. ;)

As for Todd, I know he struggled a bit at the end with sore legs, feet, back (okay, sore EVERYTHING), and for some reason, both of my feet were ridiculously sore and achy and ON FIRE for most of second half of the run, which definitely had an impact on our overall pace.

But given that our finish time was only about 30 minutes longer than our 18-miler, I’m hopeful that the (*fingers crossed*) cooler temps at the start of a 7:30am marathon and the fact that our legs and feet will be good and rested will help us do better on marathon day.


But now that I’m in full taper mode, I’m struggling a little bit. See, the thing is, I am definitely NOT one of those runners who suffers from “taper crazies” or that undying need to run even though I’m supposed to be resting and gearing up for the race.

Quite frankly, I’m freakin’ exhausted, and I very, very much look forward to the taper. Is it wrong that it’s kind of my favorite part of the training plan? ;)



However, the “beginner” plan from Competitor that we’ve been following all this time still has a whole lot of stuff going on this week and next. I’ve stuck with the plan pretty closely for the most part, but this week I was supposed to run a 3-miler, 8-miler, and 5-miler — and I only did the 3 and the 5, with a couple of Taekwondo classes tossed into the mix.

This weekend is a final longish run, a 12-miler, which I’m totally cool with…but then next week there’s another 3-miler, 8-miler, and 4-miler on deck.

Yeeeeeeeeah, I don’t think so.

So, my question to you all is what are YOUR taper strategies? Honestly, I’ve learned from experience that I have yet to struggle from anything other than heavy, exhausted legs and tight muscles on marathon day (don’t we all?), and I’m thinking that a little extra rest in the days leading up to the big race might be what I need to finish strong next Sunday.

This week's longest run -- a 5-miler -- and already sweating like a pig, lol

This week’s longest run — a 5-miler — and temperatures in the upper-60′s are already feeling WAY too hot for me, haha

But then, even though I know it’s ridiculous, I feel “guilty” for not getting in all of my runs this close to the big day…even though this plan is definitely unlike others I’ve followed that had much lower mileage in the final weeks. I know enough to scale back on the karate next week (duh), but when it comes to how much I should be running, I sort of feel like a newb. I’ve made so many mistakes in my previous rounds of marathon training, and I paid for it on race day…and I really want our experience at the New Jersey Marathon to be AWESOME. :)

Honestly, I’m more anxious about this race than any of my previous marathons. Okay, fine, except the Dopey Challenge. It really feels like the first time that I trained and planned and genuinely busted my butt to significantly improve my finish time, and I do feel READY. But at the same time, I’m sure you can all understand the feeling of wanting all that hard work to pay off on race day!

How often/long do you run in the final week or two before a goal race?

Any other taper tips/strategies for me?!


  1. After my last long run, I really decrease my running mileage to allow for recovery and taper. For a marathon, I do a 3 week taper so the week after my long run, I do my usual 2 3-mile runs and have a long run of 6-8. The week before the marathon, I try and do a 6 mile long run with some speedwork thrown in there (not much, just to practice my speed i want to go during the marathon). Instead of running more, I focus on stretching, rolling and yoga. I try to stay as loose as possible and really focus on eating clean and trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night.

    I also focus on my plan for the race (what am I wearing, what am I going to eat, transportation, what time will I go to bed the night before, etc) so I am not running as much but I am still focusing on having a good race.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks so much for the tips, Juliana! I’m worried I didn’t take enough of a taper…this was a shorter plan, so it was only two weeks. And I KNOW I need to be stretching/rolling a LOT this week. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  2. I don’t really have a true method for tapering. I do look forward to the lower mileage and knowing I’m that much closer to the race.

  3. I don’t blame you one bit, I enjoy the taper..lol. Although if we are being honest here, I haven’t tapered much lately because I HAVENT TRAINED lately. This stupid injury has really kept me from running. I don’t want to do anything to make it worse but since I signed up for all these races a year ago, I am determined to see them through even if I have to hobble through them. ( I know that’s not the smartest thing to do, be we runners are a stubborn bunch)

    • Jennifer says:

      Honestly, I would do the same thing you’re doing. I hate that you’re still struggling with this…TOTALLY SUCKS. But when you have to sign up for these races so far in advance, the only thing you can do is the best your body will allow. Keeping my fingers crossed that you’re back to business as soon as possible!

  4. I believe that less is more at this stage. You are well prepared and I can’t wait to read your race report. You are SO ready to go get your PR.
    Good Luck!

  5. I am probably not the best at taper…but I know I do enjoy resting and decreasing the mileage. Enjoy it!

    • Jennifer says:

      I know that I usually suck at tapering. So I’m trying to actually let my body REST for once so that I’m ready to race next weekend. Thanks, Jenny! :)

  6. Yay for taper time!! Don’t feel guilty about not getting all the runs in. I’ve always run less than my training plan dictated during the final week. Always listen to your body and your gut. Training plans are generic, meant to suit a wide variety of runners. Do what’s best for you. And enjoy the break!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Karla! I know you’re right. And in my case, my body definitely tells me that there’s no way I should be running any significant distances whatsoever in that last week before a goal race, haha.

  7. I know this will be horribly unhelpful but my answer to your question is as little as possible. For the marathon I ran 4 miles onTuesday, then 4 on Wednesday then nothing until race day(Sunday). It might sound like too little (it did to me) but I was feeling so great and full of energy on race day that it’s hard to argue against it. Of course, everyone is different.

    • Jennifer says:

      No, not unhelpful at all! I know you are 100% right…I’ve learned (more than once) that I tend to do too much in that final week, and show up to the starting line with legs that are tired and heavy. Thanks for the tips, Frank! :)

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