How I’m Surviving The Marathon Taper

It seems all of my experienced marathoner friends have lamented their feelings about tapering since I started training for my own marathon back in April.

“Tapering sucks. You’ll want to run more.”

“Tapering sucks. You’ll convince yourself you’re injured every day.”

“Tapering sucks. You get really antsy.”

“Tapering sucks. You’re so lazy.”

I’m only through one week of my planned three-week taper period, but so far I’m surviving OK.

I’m sure I’ll start freaking out completely starting, oh, tomorrow. But today I’m feeling calm. I’m feeling prepared. I’m feeling good.

It helps that I have a Handsome Friend to entertain me.

Do you want to see him? I know you haven’t all officially met yet…

In this picture you will find Ali, Ali's boyfriend, and Ali's Man Hands

There he is!

He’s cute, right?

So, the Hamptons Marathon is now less than two weeks away. Holy Hell. I’m doing my very best to listen to everything Coach Cane says and not attempt to go above and beyond. He is smart. I am not. I repeat that to myself daily.

I can’t exactly say I’ve survived my marathon taper yet because there’s still lots of time remaining. But here’s what I’ve done so far that’s helped me not go crazy about wanting to run more, eat more and question my preparedness:

  • Stay busy. My calendar has been jam-packed since September began, and that’s a great thing. I thought I would want to avoid all plans leading up to race day, but why? That just gives me more time to be all paranoid and skitzo.
  • Surround yourself with people who understand. When I declared that I was “quitting” drinking for the three weeks before the race, some of my friends just didn’t get it. “Why?” most people asked. “Boo, you can have one drink,” others said. No no. I don’t want to. And I know that having a booze-less system will only help me the day of the marathon. By spending most of my time with runner friends and fabulously supportive people who understand what I’ve been working toward, I find that I have to explain myself less and less.
  • See your family. Going to Boston was great this weekend for many reasons, but it was especially nice just being around people I love and relaxing with them. I never felt any pressure all weekend. I was just really, really happy.
  • Seek advice. I’m obsessed with reading marathon recaps and begging for advice from my favorite marathon runners. I’m trying to be like a sponge so I can absorb all the information they throw at me. Most people keep reminding me not to go out too fast. Noted. That is my weakness. Crap.
  • Embrace sleeping in! Not having to run this morning (though I never run on Mondays — I cross train — but whatever, go with me here) meant I could lay in bed until 7 am. OK, 7:19. Oops. I never lay around in bed, and this morning I did, and it was fantastic. Bonus points if you have good company. (See photo above.)
  • Do everything you haven’t done for the past four months. Last night I had time to grocery shop, do laundry, cook dinner (false, someone else did the cooking, but I stood around and watched) and run errands. Less time running means more time for productivity.
  • Continue eating like you have been throughout training. It’s so fun. Oh, I didn’t run 20 miles this morning? Welp, still going to eat nine meals throughout the day. Plus desserts. And snacks. My body will be nice and nourished for 26.2 miles. (This is not Coach-approved advice. I just love to eat.)
  • Pick your race day outfit. I haven’t done this yet.
  • Create your race day playlist. I haven’t done this yet.
  • Make the focus about someone else. Yeah, I’ve been pretty selfish for the past few months. I chose to run a marathon for myself. So I made that my first priority. In no way do I regret a single decision I’ve made during training. I’ve still made time for my friends and family and I’ve actually felt pretty balanced despite all the nonstop running. But this week is about someone else: my coworker! She started running recently and signed up for the Fitness 4-mile race in Central Park this weekend. I’m going to be running it with her and I’m so excited for her to run her first race. I hope she gets addicted. And I plan to spend the entire week showering her with love, attention and advice like “Here’s how to negative split” (obvious joke) so she feels ready for her big race. Since the race is a week out from my own race, I have no intentions of racing it or setting a PR of any kind. I’m just excited to see someone else into running! It’s the best.




0 Responses

  1. ahhhhh Handsome Friend! Can he come to 16 Handles next week?

    I am bookmarking this post because my taper will start in about a week and a half. Your tips are great and so are these comments! wouldn’t have thought about pretzels and salty snacks. It’s crazy to think that the small stuff – extra sleep time, that ONE beer – can add up on race day. You are doing an amazing job keeping it all together with less than 2 weeks to go!

  2. AH I thought Ben was your handsome friend too! Oh, well. He is handsome though 🙂

    Having never run a marathon, I have no taper advice, but I’m with everyone else on the salt. After my half I had white streaks on my face and neck. My eyes burn on routine 5ks. I am salty.

  3. I love the list! I am actually embarking in a big thing this week- making a debut in a burlesque performance. I have to say the same stuff that you share apply to my own experience this week- sleep, act as if, extra productivity time. I love that we can be of service to somebody else and that it feels good.

  4. Yes, I agree w/ what someone said earlier about salty foods! Get plenty of rest, hydrate, try not to let anything or anyone stress you out. 🙂 Read motivating blogs and advice on tapering. Most of all ENJOY your taper! You’re gonna do great!

  5. I’m so glad you posted a picture of your boyfriend! But um, when can we see the front?
    Unfortunately I don’t think I have any survival tips…just do it, and before you know it, taper will be over and race day will be here.

  6. Saw some people have been mentioning salt. I usually take a salt packet or an electrolyte tablet before the race. I am a very salty sweat-er and think it helps. Not sure if its too late to experiment with this. Just try to relax and not obsess. I also like taking epson salt baths to get legs legs completely fresh again.

  7. Whee! So exciting! I agree that tapering can be a little maddening (nightmares about race day, phantom injuries…), but as you said it’s also a time to focus on the things you haven’t had time for and build excitement.

    Every time you eat something carby and delicious, just think of how well fueled you’ll be on race day. I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU. I hope that doesn’t sound too creepy…

  8. Ben = Handsome Friend? Please tell me it’s true. And if it’s not can we see more of Ben in the blog? 🙂
    Getting so excited for you and your marathon. Some day…I’ll get there. Thanks for keeping me motivated!

  9. I’m with ya on the sleep thing. Biggest most helpful thing that I did during taper. Second best thing I did during taper? Watched a lot of cheesy sports flicks, which I discuss often on my blog, particularly in my last post. I tried watching Chariots of Fire, but it was just too old school for me. My top movies are Rudy, Cool Runnings, Mighty Ducks, For Love of the Game and Remember the Titans. Watch one a day until the marathon 🙂

  10. No taper advice over here. Sorry! (I mean I could make something up, but that would just defeat the purpose…) But I am running the Fitness 4 miler this weekend, too! So maybe see ya out there? SO nice that you’re running with your coworker!

  11. Totally evil with the back pic…the other guy, Ben, that is not cute boyfriend, right?! Unveil him!! And you have great advice, enjoy your taper, and you will have a great marathon, I just know it!

      1. Hahaha. Everyone thinks Ben is your boyfriend. I knew it would come up again when you showed the back of your boyfriend and then the front pic of you next to Ben and he’s wearing a black shirt, just like your boyfriend is in the back pic.

        BTW, I can’t wait until I’m at the taper stage….. 🙂

  12. That’s so nice youre supporting your friend! My friend, Erika, who got me into running ran my first race with me — and I guess it kind of changed my life as I’m obsessed with running now! No better entre into racing than a 4 miler in central park!

    I don’t usually mind the taper, either – I just see it as a necessary process to be at my best on marathon day.

  13. Evil with that back pic! I’m the opposite if you — I cannot WAIT for my taper to begin! I’m looking forward to more rest. And I haven’t even peaked in my training yet! Ha.

  14. HAH Well you’re handling taper way better than me! Of course now that my race is SATURDAY I’m totally wigging out.

    I do the same things as you during taper – it helped me to make a to do list of everything I’ve been neglecting and work to get it all done before the race. So far so good. And my house is clean!

  15. Don’t forget to eat salty things! Seriously, the one time I cramped in a marathon was when I forgot to monitor my salt intake for the week before the race because I was concerned with some other GI issues at the time. Turned out to be fatal.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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