Now, I tapered for the Royal Parks Half back in 2014, but tapering for a marathon seems like a whole other bucket of sweet potatoes. When I tried a quick Google on the subject I was bombarded with so much conflicting information that I decided to ignore it all and just go with the flow… which has led to what feels like a very poorly constructed taper. Which, ironically, is the one thing multiple sources seem to agree on; tapering sounds like a laugh (minimal running & maximum eating) but actually just leads to a whole load of self-doubt. My top 5 contradictory questions so far, which I often think concurrently are…
- Am I running enough / am I running too much? I keep panicking that I’m not running enough (I’ve barely done anything since my 20 miler which took place 3 weeks before the race) but every time I run I start worrying that I’ve done ruined everything and done too much (which I definitely haven’t).
- Am I running too slowly / am I too fast? I took my long runs really slowly, confident in the advice I’d been given not to go out guns blazing, but also applied the same theory to a lot of my other runs too. Convinced that I needed to speed up I suddenly decided to up my interval sessions towards the end of my training plan, which resulted in me putting my back out this week. Now whenever anyone who knows that I’m running a marathon asks how I put my back out I have the unenviable task of explaining that I in fact did it by running. Queue the sniggering.
- Am I eating enough / am I eating too much? This is the real biggie for me and I go through much the same routine every day. I have a smoothie for breakfast (normally almond milk, cacao, pb & banana), a smallish lunch (leftovers or ½ an avocado on rye bread) and then a Tribe bar around 4pm. By the time I get home at 7pm I panic that I’ve not eaten enough, make a huge meal of sweet potato wedges, guacamole, halloumi and veggies, swiftly followed by an apple with peanut butter, and then worry that maybe I’m eating too much. And then we begin again…
- Am I drinking enough / too much? And I’m not talking booze, which has been strictly off the menu for the past few weeks. I read an article this week on making sure you’re staying hydrated during tapering, with hydrated being identified as straw coloured pee, whatever that looks like. There was a particular emphasis on the fact that if your pee turns transparent then you’re drinking too much, so now I’ve become obsessed with making sure I’m drinking exactly the right amount to generate this elusive straw colour. I’m becoming a Loo-natic.
- Am I worried enough / am I worrying too much? Some days I totally forget about the marathon, other it’s literally all I can think about (if anyone from work is reading this then I’m totally, sort of, almost joking). I know tapers are totally unique and the first one is especially hard as you are entering into unknown territory, but I wish it were all just a little bit simpler!
The main thing keeping me sane is seeing everyone else who is in the same situation on social media. If there’s one thing which I’ve enjoyed consistently throughout the marathon training process it’s the support which I’ve received from other runners. So if you’re reading this and in the same situation, leave a comment below with your top tapering tips. If you’re reading this as a non-runner… come and join the fun.