By Arianne Brown
ST. GEORGE — In just more than one week’s time, many of you — myself included — will be at the starting line of the 36th annual St. George Marathon.
For months now, you have been putting in miles that most people only think of using their cars for. You have been waking up even before the sun shines and the roosters crow. You are in the best shape of your life, and ready to take on what very few can even dream of: You are going to run 26.2 miles through some of the most breathtaking areas in all the world. Just more than one week to go.
I can hardly wait.
The last few weeks before the marathon are filled with nervous anticipation, excitement, anxiousness and maybe, hopefully, a bit of an antsy feeling. This “antsy” feeling I’m talking about is brought about by what is known only as the “taper.” Tapering is when you cut back significantly on your mileage and training intensity in preparation for a race.
From an outside, non-marathon-runner perspective, this may seem like a good thing: not having to put in all those long, hard miles. To be quite honest, for many of us the taper proves to be rather difficult. For months and months, we have been gradually increasing our mileage and intensity. Our bodies have become accustomed to this type of training, and we have grown to love and even long for the feeling we get after a 20-mile run.
Quite often during the taper, one will feel antsy and have the urge to knock out a hard run, like those they are used to doing. Personally, I have had very similar feelings, but I am here to tell you to resist that urge — or, as I like to say, “respect the taper.”
You have put in all the work you need to run the marathon. Now it is time to allow yourself the chance to rest, refuel, repair and reflect in order to be more fully prepared for the race ahead.
Take this time to revisit and enjoy the shorter runs you did at the beginning of your journey. Some of my favorite runs are those within a 6-8 mile radius of my home. And because you are spending less time on the road, this means there’s more time to relax and let your body get rejuvenated. Take full advantage of this by sleeping in and allowing your body the rest it needs.
Another crucial part of the taper, which is oftentimes forgotten, is diet. Be mindful of your diet, and fuel your body with foods rich in protein and vitamins E and C. This helps build and repair muscle, as well as to help prevent you from catching any unwanted colds. Nobody wants to get sick or injured the days leading up to something they have trained so hard for. And of course, don’t forget to carb load and drink plenty of fluids in order to provide your body with that much-needed energy.
Finally, during this crucial time in your training, make sure you give yourself the opportunity to reflect on all that you have accomplished this far. Trust in your training. Know that all you have done in the previous months have prepared you for this day.
You are ready.
Now that you are ready to get out there and do this, a few more little pointers: Remember your Vaseline, Band-aids if need be, and take one last good look at your manicured toenails, because it may be a while before they look that way again. Most importantly, don’t forget to smile. Good luck, and I hope to see you at the finish line.