Tapering is cutting back on training in the last week or two before the race. That gives your body time to fully recover from training, strengthen and repair. Then you hit the race in peak form.
In training, you will probably notice cycles that mimic this. There are weeks when you break all your records, run faster, longer, etc. Those are hard training weeks. Those are often followed by a week or two of reduced effort - your body needs a rest and as a result doesn't perform as well. If you listen to your body and give it an easy week then you will come back stronger than ever. That is the part of the training cycle you want to be in when you race.
Taper jitters: Well here you've been building up your training for the race. You've trained long and hard. Now you have to pull back, slow down and take only short, easy runs. Meanwhile your body is raring to go! That is what you want to bring to the starting line. But that taper week is hard because you are at the peak in your training cycle and it takes a lot of willpower to be patient and go through the taper.
Felix - tapering is reducing the mileage, although not the intensity, of your running for a week or 2 before a race (depending on the length of the race). The idea is to save the wear and tear on your legs. People who have been logging many miles and cut back before a race often have too much free time to stress out about the race, about not running, and pretty much anything else you can think of - hence, "taper jitters"
I tapered for the first time before my half last Sunday and was able to shave over 3 minutes off of my previous fastest time, so it really works! The mental strain can be difficult though!
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts" - Winston Churchill
2012 Running Mileage: 2,065
Fitness Minutes: (77,443) Posts: 3,976 11/22/08 12:50 P
LOL! I already figured out that I'd be let down after the big day, so I went ahead and set a new goal.
I'll take a few easy weeks (concentrate on dropping a few more pounds and getting through the Holidays) then my next goal is to run a sub-55 min 10K. I want to qualify for Time Group 1-B in the Peachtree. Right now I'm at just over an hour for a 10K so that means dropping a min/mile between now and March (my target race).
I have actually accomplished that before - but I was nine years younger and 10 lbs lighter when I did it. Anyway, it gives me something to keep me running after....
Pounds lost: 5.5
Fitness Minutes: (112,042) Posts: 46,222 11/21/08 9:18 A
I compare the taper like a kid the week before Christmas who can't wait until the big day. Once the day comes you're so excited and are eager and ready. Once you have completed the race, like I do almost 3 weeks ago, there is a little let down and you have to figure out what to do next.
It is six days until my first Half. Several months ago when I took the plunge and signed up it seemed like a very daring thing to do. Now I'm READY already!
I've never been a fast runner so I'm not planning to set any world records here, but I really hope to do 2:15. I'll settle for 2:20.
I made my own training plan based on several I looked at. As a novice with a modest time goal, I did a max of 26 mpw and my longest run was 12 miles. But on the other hand I trained a long time - 20 weeks of specific training (I already had a base before I started). I did six 10 milers, one 11 miler and one 12 miler in the last two months. I've gotten where 10 miles is a comfortable distance and I can finish strong. Even the 12 miler was slow but comfortable. So I feel as ready as I can be for this one.
I am just going through the taper jitters (if there is such a thing) and anxious to get the show on the road!
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