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Girl Talk: Taper Time!

Don't listen to the voices telling you to run more. Squash them and have confidence that rest is the best choice to be race-day ready! Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Taper time means Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have come out to play, and they won’t stop knocking on my door.

As training for the 2013 Boston Marathon winds down, I’ve entered the infamous part of the cycle known for making runners happy and crazy all at the same time. Though tapering (reducing the total volume and frequency of your running) is essential for allowing a runner to arrive at a race start line in fresh form, many of us don’t know what to do with the extra time resulting from a reduction in volume and frequency of running. Hence mood swings arrive in full force, sending our non-running friends and family fleeing our presence! But never fear – girlfriends are here! Check out my tried and true tips for surviving (and thriving) during taper time:

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-Reduce volume and frequency of training. Experts advise reducing your weekly training volume (or the amount of miles you run) by 50-85 percent during your taper weeks.  You should also lessen the frequency in which you run by up to 20 percent in order to achieve the most effective results. Following these guidelines allows your muscles to repair the tiny tears caused by training, while rebuilding glycogen reserves (a necessary energy source).

- Be strategic. Most running coaches recommend tapering your training 2-3 weeks before your race. Schedule your taper time into your training plan from the beginning, so that you won’t be tempted to skip it all together.

-Eat clean. Training for a marathon can bring out the hungry monster inside of us all. When tapering, it’s important to fuel your body with as many whole foods as possible. If you’re hungry, don’t deny yourself food – just make sure you’re reaching for vitamin and nutrient filled options!

-Sleepy time. Don’t ignore your body’s need to rest. During your taper weeks, aim to get upwards of nine hours of sleep per night. Hitting the sheets early will pay off in the end.

-Don’t freak out. Training for a race can take over your life. During your taper period, you’ll find yourself with empty hours that were previously filled with training runs. Instead of fretting and feeling like you should be running, do something productive. Learn about the race course, plan your perfect race-day outfit, or plan a girls’ brunch. Whatever activity you choose to fill your time, remember not to stress. Rest is key to peak performance!

And most of all, don’t forget to relish the journey. Each race is a new adventure with memories awaiting on the other side. Embrace the experience and kick Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to the side!

How do you survive taper time? Let me know here or tweet me @KaraDeschenesI’ll retweet your tips to share the love!