This will be my third marathon in a year, starting with the Flying Pig last year, and taper is one of the hardest parts to deal with mentally and emotionally. This seems especially true for spring marathons. We've spent 4 months training in all sorts of good and bad weather and spent many days stuck on a treadmill due to snow or rain. Now it's beautiful outside the weather is warm I'm well trained and relatively healthy and ready to go and..I can't. I think the term Purgatory is appropriate. My body is in a process of mending and repairing itself in preparation for race day which may end up being heaven or hell depending on how things go.
To ease my mind a bit I've been going back and reading excerpts from The Principles of Running by Amby Burfoot. This book is a must have for beginner runners and a great reference piece for experienced runners. The chapters are very short and concise, and each chapter is followed by a list of principles. If you want to refresh your memory on something all you have to do is flip to the chapter and scan the principles. Let's take a look at the principles in the Taper chapter in the section "Marathon".
- The last week before a marathon...seems as if it should be a joy, but most runners find it an emotional roller coaster. (Put your hands up! Weeeeeeeeee! I remember saying a couple of weeks ago "I am so ready for taper". Note to past self: you're an idiot.)
- Don't be surprised if you notice aches and pains you haven't felt before...and you have trouble sleeping at night. These are all common during taper. (Here I am at 6 am on a Sunday morning writing this so, yeah, I get the sleeping thing. I've definitely noticed every little ache and pain over the last few days, and having plenty of time to think about it hasn't really helped.)
- Reduce your mileage to just two to four easy miles a day or every other day, depending on your schedule. On Wednesday or Thursday, do four two-minute repeats at your marathon pace goal. (It doesn't say I can't ride my bike...right?)
- Continue to eat lots of low-fat carbohydrates and to stay well-hydrated. Don't eat foods you're not accustomed to, which is one of the most common marathon mistakes. (ummm...Is ice cream okay? I swear I won't eat the whole pint. It's not like it's my birthday. I will be bringing my big jug of water to work all week.)
- Try to take your mind off the marathon with diversions like books, videos, movies, and so on. Do anything that your find and involving. Save your greatest mental focus for the race. (Check. Gina, you're running mix is ready, yo. )