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What is tapering?

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  October 22, 2012 07:43 AM

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With just 13 days until my first half-marathon, I'm now starting the "tapering" phase of my training.

What the heck is tapering you ask? I had no idea either until I started doing research about it after one of my seasoned runner friends told me to make sure to "taper properly."

Basically, tapering means reducing your mileage a few weeks before your big race and allowing your legs to rest. At the same time, on the days you do run, you try not to lose the intensity of those runs.

Here's the definition

Tapering is the training phase right before a long distance event, such as a marathon, when a runner starts to cut back on his or her mileage. Marathoners typically start tapering 2-3 weeks before their race. This reduced training phase gives runners a chance to rest, recover, and mentally prepare for their race.

So, many of my runs in this last two weeks of training will be three to five miles at a steady pace, but I won't run at my race-day pace, which has been consistently a bit faster than my training runs.

I'm also moving back to running only four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) so I can stick to my rest days and not overdo it.

I think the hardest part of tapering for me is going to be keeping my nerves in check. I'm super pumped for this race (it is my first half marathon, after all), but I'm also worried my training won't have been enough. Will I be able to run the entire way? (Who cares if I'm slow as long as I finish -- which continues to be my motto.) Will I truly be prepared?

Not logging as many miles these last few days is going to be torture, especially since running helps me shake my nerves loose, and relaxes me. I'm going to have to find another outlet for all my nervous energy -- have any suggestions for me?

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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