Trust in the taper – what’s your mantra?

I know a lot of people experience taper crazies. Or maybe I just feel that way since I do.

I always get panicky, thinking I didn’t do enough. I walk up the stairs and feel out of breath wondering how in the heck I’ll run X miles, or worse yet swim bike run! My hips and knees act up. I wonder if I’ll be able to finish.

Pre Ironman Arizona 2010 - probably the most nervous I've ever been

Pre Ironman Arizona 2010 – probably the most nervous I’ve ever been

Some people experience the opposite. They’re at peace knowing they’ve put in the work. They feel strong, confident, and ready. They look forward to the start of the race instead of just the finish line.

It’s fall marathon season and many people are heading into or are in their tapers. And I wonder, what makes people one way versus the other and how do people deal with it effectively?

I read a great article in the October 2013 issue of Runner’s World called Taper Stress, how to stay calm and confident when your mind races with anxiety.

The director of the Center for Sport and Performance Psychology in Mankato, Minnesota, who is also a runner, interviewed 21 marathoners and found there are two distinct types: positive taperers and negative taperers.

The article goes on to give tips on what to do to set yourself up for a good race including things like carb-load with caution, set multiple goals, and have a plan for after a big race.

What works best for me? Repeating the mantra, trust in the taper. My husband started saying it to me before big races. He’d be relaxed and feeling good and I’d be a ball of nerves.

Then he’d remind me to trust in the taper. Easy as that, I’d remember the long, hard training days, and know I was as ready as I’d ever be. Pushing hard at that late stage of the game would do more harm then good anyway.

So I remind all of you, whether you’re a negative taperer or just dealing with some pre-race nerves, trust in the taper.


Ironman Arizona 2010

What category do you fall in to: positive or negative taperer? Do you have any positive mantras?

43 responses to “Trust in the taper – what’s your mantra?

  1. I don’t think I really truly taper. I mostly run half marathons, so then my taper is, “Oh, I guess I’ll run one less day this week.” For my one marathon, since I didn’t really train much for it, I didn’t really have a taper. I remember that I was VERY excited the weekend before the marathon that I didn’t have to do a long run, but other than that, I don’t think or feel much about the taper since I’ve never really trained super hard for anything. When people talk about “taper tantrums,” I just think they sound silly!

  2. I am a negative taperer for sure!! I freak out when I have to decrease my mileage leading up to a race. I always question my whole training. I know tapering is very important, but I think mentally that is the hardest part to get past.

  3. I am generally a positive taperer and I welcome the reduced miles a bunch. I usually find good books to read to keep my mind on other things. The days after a marathon, however, when I am still on a runner’s high and want/NEED to run, but do not let myself are the worst (speaking from direct and personal experience right now!).

  4. I’ve only tapered once so far, and based on that experience, I would defnintely describe myself as a positive taperer. I felt at peace with my taper and the 12 weeks of training I put in, and I actually began to love the process. I had a moment or two when I thought ‘I could increase the effort on my run’ during my taper, then I reminded myself to just trust it. And it worked, because I ran a really good race with faster paces than anticipated. Training plans exist for a reason: they not only help you to improved your stamine, but also help you to learn so much about your body, (I plan on doing a post about this actually). Trusting the taper in the programme is just another thing you have to learn when you train seriously.

  5. Thanks for this! This is my first week of tapering, so this is perfect 🙂

  6. Abby, the timing of this post is perfect for me! Tomorrow is my last 20-miler, and then I start tapering for Richmond. I’ve definitely fallen prey to the taper crazies before. My body feels worn out, there are aches & pains that weren’t there two days before, and I’m itching to get out and run more. But I know the taper is important, so I can be rested for race day. My body needs that time to recovery and rebuild. I’m looking forward to the taper this time around! Going to enjoy the extra time in my day and know I can ‘trust in the taper’ to be ready on race morning!

  7. I can’t remember the last time I actually tapered, but I do remember always second-guessing myself and my training. Usually my training fell short anyways, so I had reason to question how I’d perform (I mean, the 16 weeks leading up to my 100-mile ultra, I averaged 22 miles per week). Meh, maybe I’m just not a good candidate to answer the question!

  8. This is the first time where I am not freaked out about my taper. I think it’s because this was such a different plan and I am still running hard during taper which is really only like 14 days total. now to see if it really works!!

  9. I love that mantra “trust in the taper”. I am going to use that in the future. I would say I am a positive taperer, although I often want to do more in my workouts the week leading up to a race and have to remind myself to hold back and that it will pay off on race day.

  10. Great post and great reminder. I’m definitely a negative taperer. Although its gotten a little better, my coach, friends, and family have to always remind me about all the hard work that has gone into preparing for a race and to just relax. I’m not sure I will ever trust in the taper 100% but I can definitely do a better job.

  11. I’m a pretty positive taperer. I’m just so darn happy and relieved to have the hard work of training behind me. I do have my share of phantom aches and pains during the taper though. 🙂

  12. Great post. I think I do trust in the taper to a point but I get a little anxious not running as far as I usually do. Guess I’m a mix! But very interesting!

  13. You are so smart about racing and training! I love your posts lately on recovery and now tapering. I haven’t ever really raced far enough to truly taper. I did a half marathon once, but that isn’t really too much of a taper.

  14. So many of my “big” races are away from home, so we’re almost always traveling or visiting family, and that seems to help with the nerves – I’m somewhat distracted without being stressed about other stuff. That seems to help tremendously.
    It is funny though – I’m trying to get a PR in my 10K race on Sunday and I almost feel more nervous than I was for my HIM this summer!

  15. Trusting the taper is always so hard… but for me it has worked like a charm every time!

  16. A positive taper for sure…I even wrote a post on some of my tips!

  17. ohh i love this- i think it can be applied to all sorts of big undertakings in life. i always tend to be a ball of nerves, and reminding myself to trust my training/ abilities/ etc makes a big difference.

  18. I needed this today!! Thank you 🙂

  19. A positive taper!! Especially if my training has gone good!! If you are positive leading up to the race how could you not have a good race??!! 🙂
    Go hard or go home is one of my favorite mantra!!

  20. Because my longest race is a 5K and that was years ago, I’m no authority on tapering. At all. But I relate it to coaching my teams into the playoffs. You change your practice routine a bit to preserve yourself physically and be at your best when the most is on the line.

    It’s tough, because you feel like you want to roll into postseason with a full head of steam, but a taper in the physical stuff is best for your performance. the game that goes on between the ears is another subject all together!

  21. haha yes, tapering is hard! but i always think if you are tired and hungry, you are ready to taper and then ready to race! eat up, sleep up!

  22. Definitely positive during taper, though after the race… it’s been really tough to not have some structure! My mantras: Be present; it always seems impossible until it is done; and, one foot in front of the other 🙂

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