Get to the start line ready to roll with these taper tips
The Taper. If you’re unfamiliar, tapering refers to the reduction in volume and intensity of your workouts leading to race day. You’ve been running for months, increasing your mileage, getting better and better. Your body is in training mode and it can be difficult to turn that off. Follow these taper tips to effectively utilize the extra time you now have. Continue to follow your training plan, implement these taper tips, and get to the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon or Austin Half Marathon start line ready to run your best!
Take care of yourself
This is vital and something you should’ve been doing since you began training! However, it becomes even more important leading up to Feb. 16th. Your training has introduced more miles than normal, early wake-up calls, and a reduction in time for yourself. Tapering your miles means you’ll have more time for self-care. Spend an extra 30-60 minutes a day foam rolling and stretching. Schedule a massage. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep.
Dial-in your nutrition/hydration
Keep an eye on your calorie intake! You burned more calories during training than you will when you taper. Adjust accordingly so the pounds you shed during training stay off! Focus on a balanced diet of moderate carbs, quality protein, and healthy fats. Start hydrating NOW. You should drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Continue including electrolytes like you’ve done during training. Carry a tube of Nuun with you, pop a tablet into your reusable bottle, and make your water count! Make sure you try the on-course fuel, GU Energy Labs.
No new workouts
Just like nothing new on race day, no new workouts when tapering. This includes everything from a pick-up basketball game to lifting heavy weights at the gym. You don’t want to run the risk of spraining your ankle or pulling a muscle. Stick with what’s comfortable. If that’s running or cross-training (swimming, cycling, etc.), focus on less-intense and lower-volume workouts.
An increase in your mileage could mean you’re behind on your favorite show. Maybe you haven’t read those new books you got for Christmas. Now’s the time to distract yourself from the fact that you aren’t running as much as you have been. Spend a couple of hours binging your favorite show. Grab that new book and read at your favorite park. If you find yourself getting antsy because you’re not moving, try to foam roll or stretch while watching your favorite show. Or try reading your book while riding a stationary bike.
Follow these taper tips so the taper doesn’t frustrate you or stress you out. The sudden addition of extra time and the feeling that you should be running can be confusing. Follow these taper tips and focus on controlling what you can control. What do you do to get to the start line ready to roll when you taper? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
How to Fuel Your Training During the Holidays
The holidays are upon us, and along with that comes holiday treats, cookie swaps, family dinners, late-night snacks at parties, and more.
If you’re worried about how to include seasonal treats and fuel your training, never fear! Enjoying holiday treats will not automatically lead to poor results in training and performance, and there is a way to approach those holiday traditions that will enable you to maintain a healthy mindset and establish sustainable habits this holiday season. Use the following guidelines to support your training and promote recovery while enjoying traditional holiday favorites.
Continue to eat consistent, balanced meals and snacks with carbohydrates, protein, fat, and colorful fruit and vegetables throughout the day. “Saving up” for a holiday feast and skipping meals can set you up for unintentional overeating without satisfying your hunger. Additionally, skipping meals can lead to you missing out on the key nutrient timing opportunities around workouts that are needed for optimal performance and recovery.
Include your favorite holiday treats in your fueling plan. It’s much healthier for your mind and body if you include the foods that you enjoy in your fueling plan instead of trying to avoid them altogether or stressing over them.
At holiday gatherings, build a performance plate for runners. Fill half of your plate with colorful fruit or vegetables, one fourth of your plate with your favorite source of protein, and use the remainder of your plate for your favorite side dishes, snack type foods, or desserts.
If you are asked to bring an entree or side dish to a party, volunteer to bring one that is fruit or vegetable-based so you will have that as an option.
Savor your favorite treats. Don’t settle for a “healthy” version if it’s not what you really want to eat. If you look forward to Aunt Susie’s pumpkin pie every year, have a slice topped with whipped cream and enjoy it!
Drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking alcohol in excess can cause dehydration, interfere with sleep, and impair protein synthesis and muscle recovery. Additionally, having an alcoholic drink or two immediately after a workout could possibly prevent you from eating or drinking the nutrients your body will need for optimal muscle recovery. Have a recovery snack or meal prior to imbibing in alcohol, and know your personal limits.
If you do overindulge at a holiday gathering, don’t stress over it, and don’t feel as though you need to restrict food or exercise harder the following day to overcompensate. Give yourself some grace, proceed with your workouts as planned, and continue to have consistent, balanced meals with plenty of fluid.
Above all, remember that allowing yourself to enjoy good food with friends and family is an important part of a sustainable fueling plan. Food is more than fuel; it’s also memories, emotions, traditions, and social connections. A few days of holiday eating won’t derail your training, but stressing over every bite may have an effect on your mental and emotional health and may prevent you from fueling adequately in the future. Train hard, recover harder, eat foods that support your training and emotional/mental health, and don’t forget to have fun!
Written by: Maria Rowe, RDN, LDN, CPT
Maria is a registered dietitian, personal trainer, and competitive masters runner. She helps athletes of all ages and abilities develop sustainable nutrition habits for athletic performance and life. She will be competing in the elite field of the 2023 3M Half Marathon and Ascension Seton Austin Marathon.
Runners often train in areas that are in or near their neighborhoods. This can include sidewalks, parks, or roads close to their homes. However, you should consider training grounds other than roads. When you train on different surfaces, your scenery changes often. The kind of workout you need to do, as well as the amount of energy you need to expend changes as well.
This provides runners with a break from their monotonous routines. If you change the venue you’re training in, it can also provide a boost to your overall fitness levels. Consider running on different surfaces types, such as on grass, through sand, or even on trails. You can also practice running in your swimming pool. Running on different surfaces can help you prepare for a marathon as well.
Running on Different Types of Surfaces
When you run on surfaces like grass or sand, then the pounding experienced by your legs, as you run, is reduced. This can also reduce the risk related to injuries. When you push off on surfaces that are softer, you can better strengthen your muscles. This will later translate to increased speed when you’re running on roads. Here’s how you can adapt your running routine to different surface types:
When you run on grass instead of surfaces like concrete or asphalt, up to 17% less pressure is felt by your feet. This was reported in a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences. So if you’re a runner who is looking for a surface that is forgiving, before heading back to roads, consider grass. You can also reduce the risk of injury while improving your intensity and mileage.
The grass is good for speedwork. Take for example a football field. It’s an ideal place to warm up. Run for around three minutes, then run for two minutes, and then one. Do it with such intensity that you aren’t able to speak more than two words while running. Begin with two sets or three sets, and then move on to five.
Sand has a surface that is unstable. Running on sand can help you strengthen the muscles located in your feet, ankles, hips, legs, as well as your core. Running on sand can also feel like an aerobic challenge. Should you be recovering from an injury or have limited flexibility, then you should avoid running on sand. This is because sand puts more pressure on your legs as well as your calves.
When you run on trails, you’ll need to pay careful attention to your movements. This is because there are rocks, roots, trees, and other obstacles that you need to stay safe from. Due to this, you’ll be able to turn your attention in a direction that is inward. You’ll need to work on maintaining both control as well as balance.
You’ll also need to shift gears constantly, and your leg muscles will experience various different kinds of workouts from just running.
If you want to develop muscle strength, then running in water can be ideal for you. Keep in mind that water is a lot thicker when compared to air, about 800 times thicker. It also provides resistance continuously. Your muscles will have to push through the water as you try to move forward. This helps your muscles build strength.
Running on a new surface type is ideal for runners training for any race distance. If you want a change of scenery, or want to try a new running routine, then consider training on different surfaces.