I don't know many people who like tapering. It's either a change to the normal weekly routine (running less often or shorter distances), or if you are like me, it's just a period filled with inescapable thoughts and daydreams about the upcoming race. I frequently utter the phrase, "put me in coach"!
For this go-around, I'm preparing for my last 50K of the year, the Rosaryville Veteran's Day 50K. It's a low-key, loop race located just outside Washington, DC. While the trail is not particularly challenging, I've put in a solid training block so I can really push the pace.
While the training was tough, it almost seems easier than the taper. I finished with a 62+ mile week, and then gradually dropped down to a pre-race 18 miles for this current week. Through this process, there are a few things I have been doing to help me prepare and deal with the madness that is tapering.
1. Focus on Nutrition
With training winding down, there's more time to focus on cooking and eating healthy. I placed a lot of emphasis on this because I really wanted to make sure I was staying strong and healthy after a all the training and travel I have been doing.
2. Spend Time on Other Things
Work and friends - I've been focusing more on work, both for my clients and internal to my company, and spending more time with friends. During those times, I try to focus on the moment, and try not to talk or think about running or the race.
3. Focus on Recovery
This is closely related with nutrition, but also includes things like foam rolling and active recovery (elliptical, cross-training, etc.). The goal has been to get my legs fresh, but to also make sure I'm moving and keeping myself active.
4. Spend Time on Race Strategy and Learning
While I do like to take my mind off running, it's also a good chance to take advantage of the down time and learn more. During taper trail runs, I like to discuss nutrition approaches, race strategies, etc. For a 50K, it's not as involved, but it's still something that has to be dialed for a successful race. Additionally, I like to watch race films, read stories, and other activities to get me focused on the race.
For this race, I've done many of those things, and have added more race-specific planning. Specifically, having run the course, I've put more thought into how I'm going to approach the start (actually NOT going to be going out slow!), each lap, nutrition, aid stations, etc. It's a lot of focus to really make sure I let this stuff sink in so it doesn't all fly out the window with the hype of the race start.
So that's it - a mix of distraction and focus! We'll see how it all plays out this weekend...