Marathon Preparation – 5 Tips To Survive The Taper

It’s officially two weeks until the Twin Cities Marathon. Do you think it should be said with a “The?” Or just as two weeks until Twin Cities Marathon? Does the “The” make me sound too Californian and how they talk about their roads? I giggled every time I said “The 405″ for those few years I lived in LA. Said like it was a living entity. Which I guess – TRUTH – in LA that freeway has a life of its own. But let’s talk less about freeways and more about marathon preparation and surviving the taper.


I was feeling a little unsure about hitting my goal race pace two weeks ago when I last wrote about my marathon training. But then I had a great 13 mile run and an AMAZING 22 mile run – and then BOOM I felt ready to set a PR and that my last 15 weeks of training, as well as last year and half of increased running finally paid off. All of the stars had aligned – I was injury free, I had trained well, and finally the summer heat broke and gave me a morning of running in sub-40 temps.

marathon taper tips

But then the heat came back and the humidity hit nearly 100% yesterday and my 13 miles did not go well. I decided to take it easy and just try to hit under a 9 min mile pace and be happy to be hitting my taper feeling fine and ready. However, to say I wasn’t disappointed would be a lie. And then those damn doubts started hitting again.


But deep down I think I know I’ve got this. And hopefully the weather will stay cool for me. Who wishes away summer? Distance runners do, that’s who!

marathon training

So now I have two weeks until the race and if you’ve trained for marathons before, you know these two weeks of the taper can be more difficult than even your two weeks of your traning start or the two weeks of your peak mileage.


As they say “The hay is in the barn.” Your big training is done and you are prepared – so why do you feel so crazy-anxious.


Here are five tips that have helped me and I hope will make your two week taper manageable and successful:

1. Keep running. A taper doesn’t mean you stop or even barely run. You are still running A LOT – only about 30% less each week. So don’t make this a running vacation – just a running taper. And you want to run. Keep running. Just less miles. But not zero miles. Running will keep you sane.


2. Now is not the time to set a new PR. Take your runs at a training pace or even some shorter tempo runs. But don’t decide to set a new 5K PR and possibly get injured.


3. If you are thinking of buying new shoes or gear or clothes, this is your deadline. I bought new shoes last week so I could take my last “long-ish” run in them. I wouldn’t plan to run the marathon in new shoes without getting 2-3 weeks of mileage on them. Same goes for gear or clothing. Make sure you try those new shoes or shirt or socks or bra out. You don’t want to find out it’s crazy uncomfortable on mile 6 on race day.


4. Carbing-up doesn’t start now. It’s probable that we will all put on a few pounds over the two week taper as we are running less – but this isn’t the time to have a free-for-all in the eating department. Continue to focus on eating healthy, and it’s not the time to try new foods a few days before the race.


5. Relax and find some distractions. I’m guilty of thinking WAY to much about my next race and stressing out way too much. I also try to stay away from all running articles and chat boards as I will start to question my training decisions. So find some fun distractions – getting together with friends, heading to see some movies, binge watching a new show on Netflix, trying to figure out your daughter’s Algebra homework, get a pet!…you get the idea. I’m actually heading to Costa Rica for six days during my taper. It will be a fun distraction to run in a new spot for a few days. Enjoy life and don’t think just about the marathon.


What tips do you have to survive the two week taper before a marathon?



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