Entering Marathon Taper Week

I am eight days away from my first marathon of the year in New Orleans. This one was a late addition to the race calendar when we decided — Michael, high on endorphins from the Marine Corps Marathon, and me, a week before the canceled New York City Marathon and antsy to run any damn marathon someone put in front of me —  that we could both go run a fast winter marathon and gorge ourselves on Cajun food. The Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon is only three weeks ahead of the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon, so I’ll probably make a race-day call about how much effort to put in to trying to break 3:10, which is my goal for 2013.

The forecast a week out calls for a high of 68 and a low of 59. I would prefer a starting temperature of about 45, but at least the high isn’t 85. And the start time is 7 a.m., so we’re running in the coolest part of the day. Now I have a whole week to be nervous, mostly about the temperature and humidity. But because it’s taper week, I have a limited amount of normal physical activity as an outlet for all this nervous energy. How does one get through taper week? I tend to plan the shit out of my taper week.

1. Follow my Training Plan to the Letter

I stick to a pretty rigid training schedule as it is, but I take it much more seriously during taper week. I was sick with flu-like symptoms for about four days last week and missed my final 20-mile long run, which I panicked about at the time. But through the course of this training cycle, I’ve completed six other 20-milers (or more) and a few more 18-milers. If I’m being realistic, I doubt that missing a final 20-mile run will have much of an impact on my marathon. Coming up this week, I’ll be scaling back my mileage, but I’ll be concentrating more on each mile that I do run.

Saturday: 13-mile taper (at 7:30)

Sunday: easy 8 (was not easy; was at 7:11)

Monday: easy 6 (at 7:48)

Tuesday: 10-mile Tuesday (at 7:55)

Wednesday: 15 x 200m @ 85-95% with 200m jog recovery (treadmill)

Thursday: easy 8 (at 8:02)

Friday: 6 at marathon pace (7:14) (ended up doing 2 in the morning before the flight and 3.25 easy in New Orleans with much tourist dodging)

Saturday: easy 3 or 4

Sunday: marathon

2. Polish my Marathon Playlist

In the week before the marathon, I set aside 30 minutes or so to go through the music I’ve used in training to whittle it down to a nice list. I try to put myself in marathon mode and then listen to the whole thing at work one day during the week. I’ll probably rearrange the songs and add and remove a few. Sussudio is one of my power songs and is on most playlists. I don’t care what anyone says; it makes me run fast.

Name Artist
American Beauty – Dead Already London Music Works
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk The New Pornographers
Shell Games Bright Eyes
Dolly Fruit Bats
The Way We Get By Spoon
Old Old Fashioned Frightened Rabbit
Be Calm fun.
That’s What’s Up Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
The Calendar Hung Itself Bright Eyes
Every Single Night Fiona Apple
Waltz, No. 2 (XO) Elliott Smith
Bedouin Dress Fleet Foxes
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) Elton John
Click Click Click Click Bishop Allen
Say Hey (I Love You) Michael Franti & Spearhead
Section 9 (Light & Day / Reach for the Sun) The Polyphonic Spree
My Rights Versus Yours The New Pornographers
The Henney Buggy Band Sufjan Stevens
The Underdog Spoon
I Will Wait Mumford & Sons
How Long Must I Wait Dr. Dog
King of the World First Aid Kit
Nyatiti Andrew Bird
Freight Train (with Ani DiFranco) The Preservation Hall Jazz Band feat. Ani DiFranco
Near Death Experience Experience Andrew Bird
All Alone fun.
A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free Elliott Smith
Power Kanye West
Entering White Cecilia The New Pornographers
Cancer for the Cure Eels
The Loneliness and the Scream Frightened Rabbit
Little Talks Of Monsters And Men
Taint Nobody’s Business (with Steve Earle) The Preservation Hall Jazz Band feat. Steve Earle
Fast As You Can Fiona Apple
The Frug – Rilo Kiley Rilo Kiley
Airline to Heaven Wilco
Battery Kinzie Fleet Foxes
Danse Caribe Andrew Bird
Unless It’s Kicks Okkervil River
Man On Fire Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Crash Years The New Pornographers
At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) fun.
Carry On fun.
Singular Girl Rhett Miller
Cecilia Simon & Garfunkel
Some Nights fun.
Eyeoneye Andrew Bird
Mahna Mahna The Fray
Graceland (Paul Simon Cover) The Tallest Man On Earth
Sussudio Phil Collins
Barton Hollow The Civil Wars
The Late Greats Wilco
Myriad Harbour The New Pornographers
Hail to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You Rilo Kiley

3. Be More Mindful of What I Eat and Drink

My coworkers are amazing bakers. My boyfriend is a fantastic cook. And I’m going to New Orleans where I’ll be in vacation eating mode, surrounded by delicious food. Normally this is not a problem because I eat to match my training, which is to say I eat a lot because I train a lot. But during a taper week I’m not going to be as active. I normally gain a pound or two the week before a marathon, so I’m prepared for the change. I figure if I can limit my dessert intake and my daily caloric intake to a few hundred under what I normally eat (maybe by not eating desserts?), I’ll be set for race day.

4. Review the Variables I Can Control

I know I can get in bed early Friday night (the night before the night before the race), and I know I can stay off my feet quite a bit on Saturday. I can drink a lot of water the day before the race by carrying around a huge water bottle all day. And I’ll eat a fairly big pasta dinner at an Italian restaurant I booked months ago. I also can control my race-morning prep, so I’ve dusted off my trusty marathon packing list and have started setting aside the clothes, shoes and GUs I’ll pack.

5. Review the Course, Start and Finish Areas

I’ll look at the course map a few times before the race and try to pinpoint any tricky turns or weird water stops. This course is really flat, so I don’t have to worry about saving energy for big hills. On either the morning of the race or, if possible, before race day, I’ll look at the start and finish areas to make sure I know where my corral lines up, where the toilets are located and where I’ll go after the race.

Here’s looking forward to a week of heavy legs and restless sleep. I just need to remember the huge payoff at the start line next week.

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Amanda runs nearly every day. She likes data and avoids deer at all costs.