There are officially 8 days until my marathon… I’m trying my best to stay calm. As of Monday I officially started my taper. The week before, however, wasn’t as intense as some of my harder weeks. I guess it was an average week of training. I’ve never done a longish taper before. In high school our race was only 3.1 miles, so we didn’t need to taper much. A week was plenty. For some of my half marathons I’ve done a ~9 day taper. 14 days seems like a looong time to be running less mileage, but I’m sure it’ll fly by.
About the Taper
Tapering is basically the time before the race that someone takes to rest so that they will be fresh when race day comes around. It normally involves doing less volume (running less miles) and/or doing less intense workouts. Depending on the length of the race, it is also important to carbo-load during this time. By having a lighter training load, an athlete’s glycogen stores can stay more full. Couple this with eating a higher carbohydrate diet and the athlete can have pretty good protection from hitting the wall come race day.
I really wanted to run a spring marathon this year before the heat of the summer comes around. Last year I ran a half marathon in VCM and it was awful timing. The race was 2 weeks after school ended. Unfortunately, my training suffered during exam week because I had so much to do, which basically meant I had a 3+ week taper for a 13.1-mile race… not good. I decided this year that May 11th would be a good date for a marathon because it comes right after finals. This way I can be tapering while I’m studying for my exams. Marathon training can take up a lot of time in the day, so hopefully I can use those extra hours to study and focus on finals.
Exam week is oftentimes when students get sick. There are probably a few reasons for this:
1) Added stress. With exams comes stress – it’s inevitable. Stress can make people more susceptible to becoming ill.
2) Less sleep: Students are oftentimes all out studying for finals and many will pull all-nighters to try and learn all of the information. I don’t know how students can perform well on tests that way, as I know that I cannot function well with less than eight hours of sleep.
3) Bad eating choices: I don’t know if this is true or not, but I know that many people (myself included) will often resort to bad food choices when they’re stressed out, which definitely doesn’t help your immunity.
There are already a few people I know that are sick. As many of my friends know, my immune system sucks to say the least. Last school year I got a cold at least once a month and somehow ended up getting the stomach flu twice within two months. This year I haven’t gotten as sick nearly as often, but my immunity is far from good. My friend sent me a birthday package and included a stuffed-animal. Well, I don’t know what to call it because it’s not an animal…. She got me a white blood cell with a note saying, “Stop getting sick! You need more of these.” Oh, man.
Remember that half marathon I ran a few weeks ago? The one that I didn’t give any update on afterwards? Well, as you might have guessed, it didn’t go too well. My time was okay – a couple minutes off my PR. However, the whole experience was pretty miserable. I ended up getting sick with a sore throat/chest cough thing perfectly so that I felt the worse on race day. Looking back I probably shouldn’t have raced. The sickness started making it hard to breathe in the second half of the race. After I finished I could hardly talk. However, a bunch of my friends were running it and I figured it would be a good workout at the least. I’m hoping that I got the sickness out of the way already.
In order to make sure that I stay healthy for race day there are a few things that I will be doing. First of all, I need to plan ahead. I need to schedule out my days for which things I will be studying, how much, when I will get my runs in, etc. Staying ahead of the game will also help make me feel less stressed. It’s a win-win situation! I also need to focus on getting enough sleep. As I said before, I can’t function on less than 8 hours of sleep, so there really is no point in staying up late to study. Lastly, I need to eat healthy. Come Monday I’m going to start slowly carbo-loading. I already eat a pretty high carb diet, so that shouldn’t be too hard. The thing I really need to focus on is staying away from sweets – I have a pretty bad sweet tooth. With the race so close, I don’t think it’ll be hard for me to resist, though.
I really would rather not run my marathon sick, obviously! However, I would definitely be satisfied with my half marathon time I ran a few weeks ago converted into marathon time. There’s only so much I can do to prevent getting sick. Most of it is out of my hands, but it won’t be a disaster if I do get sick. Right now I just need to relax and focus on my finals.
Is anyone else tapering? How do you handle tapering?