Taper weeks: Virtual Grand Slam

Taper weeks: Virtual Grand Slam

“If I can live through this, I can do anything.” — Champions, Fall Out Boy

In a week, I will be running with other members of the Sub 30 Club, a great Facebook group, without leaving my neighborhood.

While many of them will be in Bethlehem, Pa., to participate in the annual Runner’s World Festival, I’ll be running with them in a virtual race.

Put together by the management team at the Sub 30 Club, participants could race the same distances at the festival-goers but do it at home or wherever they want.

I signed up for the grand slam — 26.2 miles stretched over the course of three days. At the Festival this would include running a trail race on day one, a 5k and 10k on day two and a half marathon (13.1 miles) to cap it off.

Part of the fun of a virtual race is that you can hold it on your time and your way. If you want to break up the runs into one mile sections throughout the day, you can. Want to run on the beach instead of the rolling hills of Pennsylvania? You can do that too.

My plan is to cover the trail run and 5k distances the first day, 10k in day two and half marathon (split in half) on day three. I’m splitting up the half marathon because I have stuff to do that day. I don’t want to look like I just got hit in the kneecaps by a baseball bat as I go up stairs.

So it’s now taper week, where I try to keep healthy and fine tune everything before the big event.

Taper week is when an athlete’s mind and body can go crazy. You put in the work. It’s now time to get ready to reward your dedication with an amazing adventure.

I thought I’d go over a few things I’m doing that I’ve learned from past races. I hope these tips can help you too.

  • Hydration — It’s important to start hydrating several days before your race starts. When I did my GORUCK training in 2016, the plan actually incorporated hydration. It saved my butt as I was the only person who couldn’t sip from a camel pack. I had Nalgene bottles and couldn’t access them as readily. I’ve also found that lack of proper hydration makes running suck.
  • Carb loading — After fiddling around with my diet since I started this fitness journey in 2012, I’ve found that eating a high carb meal on the day before my most strenuous workouts has helped my energy levels during those workouts. I eat carbs (usually a sweet potato) usually at lunch and workout the next morning. If I ate the food at dinner, the food would probably still be sitting in my gut giving me GI issues. As a mom and athlete, I don’t have time for that.

  • Fine-tuning my prep — I have a bit more time to fine tune my race-plan during my taper week. For me that’s double-checking my protein ball recipe, which I use a fuel during workouts. I also check my gear for wear and tears and make any necessary changes and/or fixes. I have made changes to my routine on race day and have suffered because of it. Like the one time I left one of my water bottles in my car before running a 16-mile race. There was only one aid station and it was hot. It was a bad move on my part and I struggled throughout the race.
  • Sleep — It’s not the sleep the night before the race that keeps you rejuvenated, but rather the sleep in all the days leading up to the race. Going in fatigues is no fun. I did that for about three years. My legs felt like lead every weekend after getting home around 1 a.m. and then getting up four hours later to get to a race. Once I started getting my needed 8.5 hours of sleep every night, my athletic endeavors felt easier. I didn’t start out with lead legs.
  • Calm the nerves — This is also a time when I turn to meditation and yoga more. Besides giving my muscles a good stretch, I need to calm my mind of pre-race jitters. I get stuck in my head a bit too much. Having the pre-race calmness often carries me through to the race. If I panic, it’s easier to reset my mind and get back into things.

I hope you find this list useful. It works for me but may not work for you. Do you have anything to add to the list of taper activities?

If so, leave a comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

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