A blog by runners. For runners.

Taming the taper crazies

Taming the taper craziesThroughout training, most runners look forward to the taper – the last two or three weeks before the race when you drastically cut back on mileage and intensity.

Tapering is good for you. It allows your body to recover from the demands of training to ensure you’re ready to go on race day. But with all that extra time on your hands – and less time on your feet – many runners begin to doubt themselves during the taper. Some fear losing all of their fitness and gaining weight. The taper gets to other runners so much that they may be tempted to squeeze in just one more long run or an extra set of Yasso 800s just to “make sure” they’re fully prepped for race day.

Everything you’re feeling is normal – the “taper crazies” affect many runners. So, try to relax and do the following to ease your mind:

  • Stick to your training plan. Remember the bulk of your training is behind you, but you still have to follow your plan. Doing any extra workouts now will more likely hurt you rather than help. Research shows tapering can lead to a 3 percent improvement on race day, which can mean the difference between a solid race and a disappointing one. So, have faith in your training plan and stick with it.
  • Read race reviews and recaps. Search for race recaps on running blogs, the race’s site, and other websites. Nowadays, there’s a race review for almost every race out there. Reading about other runners’ experiences during a previous year’s event can give you valuable insight and even calm your nerves. Also, study the course map and elevation profile, or drive (don’t run!) the course if it’s local.
  • Have several outfits ready to go. Use this time to fully prepare for race day. The weather can always be unpredictable so make sure you have race gear that’s appropriate for the heat, cold, wind, and rain.
  • Ward off negative thoughts. Any time doubt creeps into your mind, replace the thought with positive words. Tell yourself you can meet your goal – you’ve put in the work. Check out these uplifting running mantras.
  • Volunteer at or spectate a local 5K. Now that long runs don’t suck up your Saturday mornings, you may wonder what to do. Give back to the running community by volunteering at or spectating a local race. Just make sure it’s a short distance event – you don’t want to be on your feet too long during the taper.
  • Catch up on your DVR. For some runners, calming the taper crazies means not thinking too much about running. Distract yourself by watching programs in your DVR queue, going to the movies, or reading a book. Do anything that entertains you, but keeps you off your feet.
  • Sleep. If you’ve been getting up well before the sun all of training, now is your chance to sleep in. Enjoy it! Aim to get eye hours of sleep each night.

How do you stay sane during the taper?

Written by Jen Matz.