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Tapering for Dummies

The marathon taper: that crazy period 3 weeks before a big race when you start cutting back on mileage, ramping up the carbs, and obsessively checking the race day weather. During this time, it’s typical for many runners to start experiencing the taper tantrums – a non-fatal condition that convinces you that you just might be coming down with a horrible medical condition, mystery injury, or an incurable case of lead legs.

Taper tantrums are pretty awful, but believe it or not, they can be avoided. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that these tantrums are soley for amateurs. And with some {not so} careful planning, any dummy can avoid them. Fortunately for all you HOTR-readers, I’ve got the answers. What follows is a 10 Step Guide that has been carefully compiled over years of field research. Read, and then feel free to thank me later.

The {ontherun} Guide to Preventing Taper Tantrums*

i.e. Tapering for Dummies

1.) Carbo-load like a King

This is your excuse to eat every single carb in sight. But choose wisely — who needs pasta when there’s Easter candy and delicious cookies?? Gobble away – your muscles need glycogen after all.

cookies jelly beans

2.) Celebrate the short runs

Get out for a few really short runs and use your renewed energy to blow by all those newbie runners that have suddenly come out of the woodwork with the nicer weather. You are a marathon runner and the world needs be in awe of what great shape you’re in! Don’t you dare let one of those newbies pass you – you’d never live it down.


3.) Don’t work too hard

Use your upcoming marathon as an excuse to get out of unpleasant tasks, including but not limited to, daily work responsibilities, household chores, and even showering. If you live alone, it’s time to train your dog to start pulling his weight around the house.



4.) Spend extra quality time with the couch

This is the one time in your life when it’s socially acceptable to sit around like a lump. Celebrate by staying up late watching all your favorite TV shows. There’s no time for sleep when there’s this much quality programming to catch up on!


5.) Watch out for that scale

…it’s probably telling you lies. There’s no way you could’ve gained a couple pounds this week. After 16+ weeks of training, your body is a carb-burning machine! But you can’t run the risk of having those pounds weigh you down – skip a meal or two to shed them ASAP.



6.) Throw patience out the window

This week, it’s okay to tell people they are annoying you. In fact, feel free to snap at anyone and everyone for the smallest reason. Don’t they know you’re under a lot of stress these days?? You’re training for a flippin’ marathon!

leave me alone i'm tapering.png


7.) Dominate the conversation

Who cares what mundane things your co-workers are doing with their free time. I’ll bet it’s not nearly as cool or brag-worthy as running a marathon. Start steering every conversation back to your upcoming feat. “Oh, you got a new couch? Good for you Bill. Have I mentioned I’m running a marathon??” Now is also the time to use your race as the perfect excuse to get out of lame social engagements. “Oh, sorry, I can’t go out to dinner with you guys tonight – I’m resting up for a marathon.”

8.) Work those biceps

You want to look good in those marathon photos don’t you? Use the extra time you’re not running to ensure that you will have rippling muscles by race day.

muscle shirt.jpg


9.) Ruminate

It’s important to be mentally prepared. Which means you should be thinking about that race non-stop. If you’re not stressing, something is wrong. And if you somehow find yourself getting too anxious, cope by eating more carbs (see number 1).


10.) Shout it from the roof tops

Finally, once you’ve attained the level of taper-awesomeness that’s inevitable after following the above steps, it’s time to share it with the world. Tweet it, Facebook it, blog about it — tell everyone how truly awesome you are at tapering. Not only do you run marathons, but you taper like a champ.

awesome shirt.jpg


And there you have it. The foolproof HOTR-guide to tapering. Follow these steps and you will surely be ready to dominate on race day**.


*There is no guarantee that the {ontherun} guide to tapering will actually lead to success. Follow at your own risk.

**Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t follow these steps exactly. In fact, if you’re smart, you should probably do the exact opposite of everything I’ve said. But where’s the fun in that?


20 Responses to Tapering for Dummies

  1. My taper skills are not perfect, but I am working very hard to eat every carb in sight. And it won’t be long before I start telling someone off! Ha!

    Have a great night! I’m off to check the weather :)
    Becky´s last post ..Sunday Runday

  2. I’m gonna have to come back and read this when I tapering for my marathon. LOVE IT. Good luck next weekend!!!
    Michelle @ crazyrunninglegs´s last post ..Oooo Cider

  3. your marathon training blogs are the best EVER. they make me happy beyond belief. I still have THREE more long runs before I get to do this. so not fair.
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)´s last post ..My Amazing Race and New Place!

  4. haha, I love this! One good reason why the scale may creep up a bit – your body needs water to store glucose (i.e., glycogen), so as we carbo load, our body’s also store more water. So we may feel bloated and gain a few pounds – we just need to remind ourselves why and that it will give us the energy we need on race day!
    Kelly´s last post ..On PT and Springy Sprouts

  5. Cute post…at first I was like “is she really skipping meals?” Hehe…you are going to rock your marathon. I can’t wait to be there to support you!
    Lizzy´s last post ..Birthday Weekend

    • Well of course. Isn’t marathon training all about how skinny it makes you…and looking good in those short shorts on race day?? 😉

  6. I like your post. Now I know why you are such a good runner. I don’t get people’s comments to your blog. They act like you are kidding. This was for real, right?

  7. Haha please remind me not to read this during my taper 😉 You know how great (sarcasm) I am at tapering though, so maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong! And come to think of it, Easter candy and spending time on the couch watching American Idol sounds pretty good. Hope your run went well today, Lauren!

  8. That picture of the dog is HILARIOUS! They really need to learn to walk themselves during taper time. Or at least get their owners snacks from the kitchen.
    Liz´s last post ..Spring in My Step

  9. Wow, until I read this post I didn’t realize that I was ALWAYS tapering. Also, how’d you find that picture of my Garmin stats? 😉

  10. I could sense the sarcasm, until I got to the scale and then I was like “there’s no WAY Lauren would advocate for skipping meals.” That really sealed the deal for me. This post is hilarious. Those Garmin stats are for real though, right? I was like oh that’s like my time!…for a 5K… :)
    Erin @ Big Girl Feats´s last post ..Lucky

    • I love that it was the comment on skipping meals that gave me away. I’m not sure I’ve ever voluntarily skipped a meal in my life.

  11. this is amazing. is it a bad thing if I actually do 75 percent of these things during my taper?
    Emily´s last post ..Don’t Mess with the Rest Cuz the Rest Don’t Mess

  12. My secret is I never stop carb loading after each race. That’s not right?
    Runeatrepeat´s last post ..Two Different Eggs

  13. I am carboloading 24/7. That is my secret 😉
    Matt´s last post ..Do You Stick Or Roll

  14. It took me a while to get the Garmin thing (it’s 5am, okay??), but I LOVE IT. I mean, look at that pace!!

    I carb load alllllll the time, no matter if I’m tapering or not. Carbs are your friend!! I think that needs to be a tshirt.

    Susan´s last post ..St Patrick’s Day in NYC

  15. LOVE it! I will definitely be using these tips very soon – ahhh!
    Aron´s last post ..Giveaway- Headsweats Hats!

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