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You’ve been training hard for months and now there’s just a few weeks left until your goal race. It’s time to taper! While some runners are desperate to cut back on their mileage after long weeks and months of training, for others, the taper is an unwelcome disruption to routine.
It can be hard to go from running a high volume of mileage—whatever that means for you—to cut back considerably and have more free time than you’ve been used to. After all, many people deal with pre-race anxiety, and running less can sometimes play tricks on our minds! I know I’ve convinced myself during bouts of taper madness that I’ve somehow lost all my fitness, gained 20 pounds, and will never achieve my race goals. Of course, that’s not true. But how do we keep from going crazy?
For me, the key to surviving my taper has always been to stay busy—just in a different way. Here are my favorite ways to “stop the madness” and get to race day in one piece.
Pick up a project you’ve been putting off
Running fewer miles means you have more free time, right? How about using that time productively to work on a project around your house you’ve been putting off due to exhaustion, lack of free time, etc.? I personally love to make shadow boxes to commemorate trips I’ve taken, but I tend to get behind. The taper is the perfect time to catch up!
Make plans with a friend or family member you’ve neglected
We’ve all ditched plans on a Friday night because of a long run on Saturday—admit it! Now, you can make a date to catch up with your friends or family and spend some much needed quality time. Besides, it might be nice to talk about something besides running for awhile!
Try a new fitness class
When you’re running tons of miles, it can be hard to find the time or energy to get in some cross training. Maintain your fitness and have some fun by trying out a class in that new boutique fitness studio in town that you’ve been dying to get to! Just don’t do anything too crazy—it’s not worth risking injury right before your race. Keep it low impact, if possible.
Work on your mental game
Now is the perfect time to put the finishing touches on your mental game for race day. Spend some time visualizing your race day from start to finish, including the moment when you cross that finish line and achieve your goal. Look back through your training logs and think about tough workouts you did and how you stayed strong and pushed through. If possible, try and find a video of the course and watch it so you can be prepared for what to expect at various points along the way. You’ve done the physical work—make sure your mental game is on point, too!
Catch up on sleep
Hey, your body needs to be rested to race well, right? Why not catch up on those zzz’s you’ve been missing out on thanks to early long runs? Finally, you have a built-in excuse to nap.