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Marathon Taper Advice–Those Last Few Days

Speaking of the importance of comments…. I wanted to share with you all a few bits of advice that I left on #mamasalt’s blog on Thursday. Our dear Salt is running her first marathon on Sunday; we all know that she, like any one else nights before their big race, is living rife with anticipation, phantom pains, and starting to build that adrenaline.

Pre Marathon Nerves (no joke--morning of MCM)

Pre Marathon Nerves (no joke–morning of MCM)

The last few days before one’s first marathon/half marathon/5k/goal race are, in my mine, among the top tests of the entirety of one’s training: how you handle the thoughts racing through your mind will play a huge role in how your legs race over the ground on race day. In those last few days, you question everything about your past, your present, your future: did you do enough training (past), are your resting/hydrating/fueling/stretching enough or too much (present), and what if it rains? What if you drink/eat too much beforehand? What if your stomach goes? What if your IT band/plantar fasciitis/calf acts up? (future).

calm down

Oh, my friends, I know all to well what you are dealing with. If you recall from my MCM recap, I mentioned that I had a hell of a time in the month and a half leading up to my marathon, after an otherwise picture perfect training. I didn’t know if I would make it to mile 10, much less 26.2. That morning, I felt physically ill with nerves. But then I ran. And it was an experience that changed my life.

I am not guaranteeing that everyone’s marathon/race will go perfectly. Believe me, I saw people in tears, people being attended by medics. I saw disappointment. But I also saw (and I personally felt) elation. The risk is worth the potential reward.


In the comments of Mama Salt’s post, she asked for any last advice. Here is what I had to say:

I’m so proud of you. I know people say things like this all the time, but the marathon itself is just a victory lap. The training is the hardest part–you have to go after it, week after week, deal with injuries, put in the time, the training, the $$. All for several hours on one particular day when you might get a side stitch and ruin everything. So, no matter what happens, be so freaking proud of yourself. Now and in a few days. All that will change is that you get a medal and some pictures. But you are already a marathoner.
10 pieces of advice:

  3. Go with your gut–literally. Eat/drink etc what you know works.
  4. Ask questions. Everyone knows what it is like before your first marathon. But unlike the other type of virginity, people are willing to talk openly about marathoning in front of children.
  5. Run without music for as long as possible and soak it all up.
  6. Start off slower than you think you need to. This first marathon is about finishing. And with style
  7. Body Glide. EVERYWHERE. Feet, bra straps, underwear, compression sock tops. Where the tongue of your shoe is (trust me). And Sunscreen and bug spray. And take bandaids and kleenex with you.
  8. Hydrate like crazy the day before, have a big water the morning of, then lay off.
  9. Don’t freak out if things go wrong. It’s not a crisis. It is a problem. You’re a mom. SOLVE IT.

Finish with a #mamasalt bath 😀 Love you and don’t worry, you got this.

I share this with all of you. And if you are not a mom, well then substitute “you’re a big girl.”

couch cat

Good luck to all of my past/present/future friends racing this weekend or in the weeks to come. Take this advice to heart and know that you are a champion. You don’t need a medal to prove it, though it is nice. You have done more than many could ever fathom.

Any other pieces of advice to add to help people get through those last few days?

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  • Reply Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill

    For me, it’s all about getting enough liquid the days before the race. I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
    Laura @ the gluten-free treadmill recently posted…Meal prepping for the win, take two!My Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 7:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I so agree. I never drink regular Gatorade except for the days before big big races. And propel for sure after.

      May 24, 2014 at 11:04 am
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Great tips! For me the most important thing is being prepared. I try to start getting organized for the race several days before. There’s nothing worse than scrambling around on the morning of your race realizing you don’t have a clean sports bra or your watch isn’t charged!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Florida Running and Relaxation!My Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 9:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thanks! And oh good god yes be prepared. And have 3 different outfits ready haha.

      May 24, 2014 at 11:02 am
  • Reply 10 Brutal Miles and Links to Check Out | Running Out of Wine

    […] SuzLyfe: Marathon Taper Advice: This is a great read for anyone dealing the with taper crazies the week before a big race! I remember before my first marathon I had no idea what to do with myself during the taper…I wish I had something like this to read at the time! And GOOD LUCK to Lauren (Salt) who is running her first marathon tomorrow!!! […]

    May 24, 2014 at 9:56 am
  • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

    Susie’s Mommy’s words of advice:
    If you have a “support person” who will be there to “assist” you, pay bills, get you home, whatever–make sure you set a few places on the course where you can see each other and wave. I stood for over an hour watching for Susie and she saw ME first. Pick just 2 or 3 places, it isn’t easy to watch a huge mass of moving people while you watch for your person–also, note what your runner is actually wearing to race in.

    Don’t think of your support person as just being there-you will need him or her–to cheer you on, take phone pictures, to be super proud of you, b/c you did it. If, God forbid, you have a problem on the course, just knowing that someone is physically present who knows you, will help.
    Your support person will also find themselves cheering for other “support peoples'” runners. The crowd will get you through some of the rough spots, and having your name called out and cheered for does matter.
    We are there to cheer all the runners, but we are super proud to be there for you!

    May 24, 2014 at 11:53 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      OH such a good point. Yeah, knowing where you would be (or being able to communicate and find you) was awesome. It’s like having that little carrot on the stick telling you “just one more!” And being a spectator/support person is so much fun–you get to see so many people make their dream come true. It was so motivating for me when I went to watch your half–that is what started it all!

      May 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm
      • Reply Susie's mommy, Clare

        and we are still doing them together, when we can! I can’t wait until the Chicago half in 2 weeks!

        May 25, 2014 at 7:03 pm
  • Reply Debbie Rodrigues

    I was not prepared at all when I ran my very first 5km. Well, not ran, walked for most part of it. I am not proud of that but I did not quit and I made the decision of never letting it ever happen again.
    It is normal to doubt oneself, but we can never let fear paralyze us.
    Lovely tips! Great sharing.
    Debbie Rodrigues recently posted…Shout Out Saturday – May 24th, 2014My Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So true, and another excellent point. We need those tough moments to learn from–so that we can do what we can to not repeat them! And then, when it is time to try again, we have more confidence and also more mental strength to push through. But oh, can fear be paralyzing.

      May 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm
  • Reply Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    You know I totally feel ya on this since we had very similar experiences leading up to our marathons. Nerves can definitely get the best of you! I was so nervous teh morning of my race I could barely eat my breakfast! I usually love taper time though because it means no more long runs – which are my least favorite part of training haha
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…Friday Five: Five Places I’d Like To RunMy Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, god, I remember–we were both such wrecks. But there comes a point where you just have to say, well, F It. I’m going to do this anyway, so I might as well put on my big girl pants and suck it up. And you would think that you would like the long run part of the marathon experience but I guess not lol

      May 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Kammie @ Sensual Appeal

    these are great tips! Something I like to do leading up to big races is watch inspirational videos or elite training videos on flotrack. It helps pump me up and feel super motivated to get out there and run!
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal recently posted…How to have a perfect tea party with Bigelow TeaMy Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That’s a great idea! Plus, it helps you visualize the experience, which will help when you are out there on the course and need that extra boost to push through. Being able to connect positive emotions to what you are doing is a major motivator!

      May 25, 2014 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply Lis @ 26.2x2

    I freaking love this post! Probably because I’ve attempted training for my first full twice so far, only to get injured…and one of the major problems I had were the tongue of my sneakers chafing against me, which was obviously affecting my gait. I am getting some body glide ASAP, lol.
    Lis @ 26.2×2 recently posted…A Bachelorette Party Fit for a RunnerMy Profile

    May 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to pull up twice–I can’t imagine your frustration. I’m still planning on Twin Cities, but to be honest I’m taking it run by run at the moment, and trying not to get my hopes up! The night before MCM was terrifying-not knowing if I would make it. And omg the tongue of sneaker thing–owowowowowowow

      May 25, 2014 at 12:51 pm
  • Reply Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete

    Um, you are the best. I have run two marathons, and while that is a feat (FEET!) of success for many, I don’t believe that they were my best. At.all. I’m wondering about my nutrition and so many other things going into the training season for my third time around Chicago on foot (but this time as a resident! YEAH!), but this really helped me put so many things to rest in my mind. My only wish is to be at peace with all of this in the next five months, and I will totes use this as a reference when I begin my taper. 🙂 Thank you, and I will probably call you. LOL!
    Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete recently posted…B-U-S-Y Week!My Profile

    May 25, 2014 at 6:53 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha PLEASE do call me! I’m glad that this helped–so often the “easiest” part of the training (the taper) are the hardest because of the lack of structure, so it helps to have something that orders you about a bit 😀

      May 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Tina Muir

    Great post Suzy! So true, and you hit on the most important ones first! I think hydration is critical, and fueling up in the days before. I do not think I did enough of that! One other thing I would say is to enjoy it, you have worked so hard for this…now enjoy the reward!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Secrets to Success as a Runner: DrillsMy Profile

    May 25, 2014 at 7:08 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Great point–definitely enjoy it. I think a bunch of the enjoyment also comes from just being able to relax and allow yourself to do so–we place so much pressure on ourselves to perform that we lose the sheer pleasure of allowing our bodies to move.

      May 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm
  • Reply Sarah @ Absolutely Ridiculous

    I <3 this! A full marathon is on the list for one day, I am going to bookmark this to go read it over and over…
    Sarah @ Absolutely Ridiculous recently posted…Treat Yourself TuesdayMy Profile

    May 27, 2014 at 8:08 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You could read it to Olaf as a bedtime story!!

      May 27, 2014 at 9:10 pm
  • Reply Cassie

    I’m so bad at trusting the taper… but when I taper I do so much better! I just hate taking days off… that’s my issue!
    Cassie recently posted…Trail Mix Oatmeal MuffinsMy Profile

    May 27, 2014 at 9:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is definitely the hardest part. Resting is always the most difficult aspect of the entire enterprise for me because, like you, I just hate taking the days off. It’s such a mindf***.

      May 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm
  • Reply Fave Race Moments and Gluten Free Muffin Recipe! | Suzlyfe

    […] Last plug–don’t miss these tips for dealing with taper! […]

    August 8, 2014 at 5:30 am
  • Reply Pre Race Tapering Advice

    […] taper but you have something else to which you can apply these sage words of wisdom, I wanted to repost my advice from earlier in the summer. Many of you will remember of it, but with so many new faces (hi, […]

    September 22, 2014 at 5:38 am
  • Reply Friday Five Fave Race Moments and Gluten Free Muffin Recipe! - Suzlyfe

    […] Last plug–don’t miss these tips for dealing with taper! […]

    October 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm
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