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What To Expect The First Time You Taper For A Race

Congratulations! After weeks and weeks of sticking to your training schedule and crushing workouts, you have reached Taper Town!

This is a one- to three-week time period near the end of a training plan where the mileage and intensity of your workouts decrease. It is a necessary part of the training process and is as important as speed workouts and long runs. Your body recovers and repairs so that you can run your best on race day.

Now what do I do?

Do I just sit around and wait for race day?
Do I take an extra yoga class in my spare time?
Am I getting sick? I can’t be getting sick.
What the heck is going on in my right calf? Did I get an injury?

Taper Town is where all the crazy thoughts live, which is why many runners catch a case of the taper crazies or throw a taper tantrum or two during this time period.

At first it can be exciting to reach the taper, but then something strange happens and your mind begins to play tricks on you. You question everything and might even start to feel sick and lethargic.

Guess what? This is all just a normal part of it! Most runners experience some negative symptoms. If you’ve found yourself in the middle of a taper and are feeling less than great, keep in mind it’s just a part of the process!

Things you might experience during the taper:

  • Questioning everything—Don’t give in to this. Don’t think about what you could have done differently, think about everything you did right during training.
  • Muscle tightness—Your body is recovering from weeks of hard work. Foam roll and stretch daily.
  • Catch a cold—Training is strenuous and can compromise your immune system just a bit. There’s not a lot of research on why this happens. Stay on top of your diet and focus on eating immunity boosting foods and getting sleep.
  • Feeling lethargic—During the middle of the taper you may not feel fresh, fit or recovered from all your training.
  • Grouchiness/Anxiety/Restlessness—You are used to getting a certain amount of exercise in your life. When this changes you won’t be getting as many exercise endorphins as you’re use to or the natural boost running gives you. These three things are a symptom of your lowered activity level.
  • Doubt—You should not be doing more running or working out than your training plan calls for. Trust the process even if you don’t understand it.

If you are not sure exactly what to do during this time, we’ve got you covered! Read the Do’s and Don’ts of Tapering.

Race Pace Jess

Race Pace Jess

Jess Underhill fell in love with running during a rough patch in life, a time period most people just refer to as middle school. Twenty-six years later that first runner's high she experienced continues to shape nearly every aspect of her life, including her career. She has a Master's Degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, is graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is a UESCA Certified Run Coach. Most recently Jess launched Race Pace Run Club, a free virtual run club that welcomes runners of all levels from coast to coast and also meets in-person in NYC. She is an ambassador for Sparkly Soul Headbands