Friday, April 27, 2018

Taper Time To-Dos

With fewer miles and shorter workouts, what are you going to do with all that extra time during the taper? A few suggestions:

1. Rest

This is obviously the number one thing you’re supposed to be doing. Run less, rest more. Sleep in, go to bed earlier. Curl up with a good book (I highly recommend Deena Kastor’s Let Your Mind Run, it helps a lot with #5, below) and—if at all possible—procrastinate any to-do items until after the marathon. Spring cleaning can wait until… never, right?

2. Freak out about the weather

Just kidding, don’t do that. (Good luck not doing that.)

3. Plan any last minute details of race weekend

And by that I mean plan where you’re going to celebrate afterward. Around this time is when I start imagining all the junk I’m going to eat post-race, mostly of the cupcake/donut/ice cream variety. (If you have any suggestions of good Pittsburgh bakeries/ice cream shops/burger and beer places, let me know!)

4. Visualize your race

Don’t just picture the cupcakes; also picture how you’re going to earn those cupcakes.

I wrote about visualization before and it’s a relatively simple way to get mentally prepared. Imagine running well of course, but don’t pretend everything will go smoothly. Know that it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I got an unexpected comfort from reading over an old race report. I remember the race going well, because it ended well, but I wrote that it was the hardest race I had ever run. I'd forgotten some of the struggle, but knowing I struggled and still succeeded was comforting. Recognize that in your visualizations. There will be moments of doubt and fear and wanting to drop out. Mentally practice moving through those moments. Feel yourself struggle and then see yourself pulling out of it and succeeding.

5. Build the mental arsenal

Keep looking for things that will help you pull yourself out of those tough spots. I’ve spent the last week or so writing down every encouraging quote or thought I have. I plan to scroll through this arsenal race weekend with the hope that I can memorize the most powerful to rely on during the race.

One of the quotes that really hit me was “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the BS story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” Every time I think about all the reasons I believe I can make my goal, the old stubborn demons try to pop in and tell me why I can’t. In the Believe I Am Compete Training Journal, Lauren Fleshman writes about making a case for yourself. She suggests writing down all the negative chatter you tell yourself before a race and then coming up with an argument against each one (even if it’s an argument you only wish you could believe). Memorize the big ones and repeat them to yourself three times in a row every morning and night. (The repetition will help you believe, even in the shaky ones.) Deena Kastor suggested a similar strategy in the I’ll Have Another podcast: come up with three reasons why you’ll achieve your goal and remember them when the going gets tough.

I always sign these posts “Dream big” but in the days before a race, my mantra is different: Believe. Believe in God, believe in yourself, believe in the potential God has given you. Believe you’re capable of much more than you know. Believe in the training, in the miles and hard work accumulated. Believe in the taper, in the way your body is soaking up that rest. Believe that when it gets tough—seemingly impossible—you’ll find a way through and prove it wasn’t. Believe and don’t stop, because as soon as you stop the race is lost… but if you keep believing, who knows what will happen

Adding one extra piece to my race day attire.

(Note: There won’t be a post next Friday. I’ll be focusing on #1 on this list, but look for a race report in two weeks!)   

Dream big (and believe!),


  1. Have a fantastic race - and believe! I'm really good at #2 above, but need to make #5 a point.

    1. Thanks, Sara!! Yea, I'm really good at #2 too... it's hard not to be!

  2. 2:44:36. 6th female. Great work. Enjoy, recover, and we'll await the race report.