3 days until the Marathon! the TAPER period

by Mary & Christina on November 18, 2010 · 9 comments

Only  3 days until the MARATHON, AH!!  I cant believe it is finally here! I cant speak for Mary but I for one am pretty nervous.  Although the taper period offers much needed relaxation, it also makes you wonder if it will work and if you will be prepared and ready to go on race day. I know I should just trust the process and not doubt the plan…Hal knows his stuff.  Hal=Hal Higdon…. a famous runner whose marathon training plan we are following.   I mean I made it through 18 weeks of training.  Except for a missing toe-nail (nbd), I am ready to go!
Mary and I began our taper period in week 16 of our 18 week training plan (some plans have a 3 week taper).  The tapering philosphy in the plan we are following (Hal Higdon) is that you cut mileage to 75% in Week 16, 50% in Week 17 and 25% (not including the marathon itself) in Week 18.  Tapering is done to ensure full recovery.  Running causes muscle damage, fatigue and also depletes carbohydrate stores in muscle. You need to ensure that these factors are reduced as much as possible while at the same time you need to make sure that the adaptations your body has made from your training are not lost.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind during the taper period and especially during the last week before the marathon (source: Hal Higdon):
CARBO LOADING: proper fueling before your marathon can make the difference between agony and success. The goal of CARBO LOADING is to  maximize the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles because poorly fueled muscles are associated with needless fatigue. The more

glycogen, the more endurance.  You should begin carbo-loading seven days in advance. This does not mean that you need to eat spaghetti all seven days (although of course some of the days you can!)…instead, focusing on consuming fruits, vegetables, and grains will keep you above 60% carbs even if you have lean meat as a main course.


WEIGHT GAIN IS NORMAL! Runners who have properly carbo-loaded should gain about 1 to 3 pounds-but don’t panic!  The weight gain reflects water weight and indicates you have done a good job of fueling your muscles…for every ounce of carb stored in your body, you store almost three ounces water

DRINK WATER:stay hydrated! Drink enough alcohol-free beverages to produce a significant volume of urine every two to four hours.  It should be pale yellow, like lemonade (your pee should be pale yellow, not the water haha). Don’t bother to overhydrate; your body is like a sponge and can only absorb so much fluid

ELIMINATE ALCOHOL: alcohol is not only a poor source of carbs, but can also hinder your ability to perform at your best.  It’s a good idea to eliminate alcohol a few weeks before the race.

REST: Resting will not cause you to lose condition when you taper! Take it easy- you deserve a break after all of the training!  Also- make sure you get enough sleep.  Make sure you get a good night’s sleep 2 days before the marathon (you may have more difficulty sleeping the night before because of nervous anticipation)

RELAX About a week before the marathon is a great time to go get a good massage to relax your muscles. It’s not recommended to get a massage just before the big day, however, in case the masseuse causes something to hurt instead of help. (deep tissue massages often tend to leave you sore for a few days before you feel the benefits of it).  Also,

make sure you STRETCH.  Stretching helps prevents muscular aches, pains, and cramping, reduces the possibility of muscular soreness over the next days, decreases the possibility of causing a muscular injury, increases the muscles efficiency/effectiveness of movement (by enhancing the ability of muscles to contract/work more powerfully and economically, Lengthens stride, improves your overall form), and is great for relaxation


I feel like I have been following the “rules of tapering” pretty well.  The carbo-loading is not really a problem for me.  I eat a lot of carbs anyway… I didnt have to change the amount I ate (decreasing my running means that the extra calories I am no longer burning are going towards fueling my muscles).  They say to try to decrease the amount of “sweets” you eat…havent done that. and I dont care. I cant live without sweets! I havent actually

weighed myself but I feel like I put

on a few pounds (as is suggested)….but I guess I can see if that is true for sure when I go home.  I have been trying to drink more water (pee is pale yellow for all of you who are concerned) and I havent been drinking any alcohol (not that hard for me though- not a big drinker anyway).  I have also been making sure I get an adequate amount of sleep each night (last night I went to bed instead of studying for a Psychopathology quiz I had today…dedication my friends. dedication. and I still got a 100. boo yaaaa).  and I got a massage yesterday– felt AMAZING.

Oh and Katye completely made my day today- she gave me the New Balance Watch that I won in her raffle AND she gave me a Baltimore Marathon Under Armor Shirt that she had leftover at the running store she works at (Charm City Run)- its highlighter yellow and says “Run Baltimore” on the front and “protect this house” on the back- I LOVE IT!  I am pondering about wearing it on Sunday so my Mom and Dad can easily spot me…what do you think?

So that’s that.  I am headed home tomorrow after class.  My sisters and I just hanging out for the night- making homemade pizza, the usual.  Saturday we are running 2 miles together in philly and then going to the expo and out to dinner in Philly to Mercato ;) ….we also may or may not watch Rocky before going to bed and may or may not run up the art museum stairs on our 2 mi run on saturday morning.  Hey, whatever pumps you up…dont judge.  and then the PHILADELPHIA MARATHON on Sunday! WOOHOO!!!

Question: how to you prepare for your races?  Do you have a race this weekend?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karyn November 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm

okay so did you read my post and then decide to write a response to it?! hahahah. just what i needed to read! goooooooooooood luck this weekend!!!!


2 Mary & Christina November 19, 2010 at 7:44 am

haha that is too funny! what day is your race? I hope you are feeling better today…. and good job with that long run…way to stick it out!

have a good weekend karyn ;)


3 Elizabeth November 19, 2010 at 9:55 am

oooo only 2 days to go! Sounds like you guys are ready. Good luck!


4 Mary & Christina November 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Thanks elizabeth!


5 Karyn November 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

it’s on december 5th. so taper is just starting for me. good luck on sunday :)


6 Mary & Christina November 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

ah it will be here before you know it…enjoy the taper period and good luck with the rest of training!


7 Paige November 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

So glad I found your blog topic today of all days! I am 3 days out from running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon! I have been a cargo-loading junkie this week, and despite the fact that I am nursing a pretty tender case of plantar fasciitis (it hurts when i’m NOT running), I feel ready to run this race!! I ran all of my long runs – 20 was a nightmare (I didn’t hydrate or fuel enough), but that’s why we train – to learn, right? I also followed Hal Higdon, and am so glad I stuck to the plan.

I will continue to follow your blog – best to both of you!


8 Mary & Christina May 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm

thank you!! :)


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