One of the great things about marathon training is the few weeks leading up to the race. You already put the time and mileage on your legs, and now it’s time to relax and get excited for race day! All of your training over the last few months has prepared you to run the 26.2 on November 1, so don’t worry—tapering is the time to refresh and prepare physically and mentally to run the streets of New York.
How do I stay relaxed, you ask? That’s a tough question for me, as a New Yorker, to answer, but here are a few helpful tips:
1. Sleep: Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep each night. It is recommended that healthy adults get at least eight hours of sleep per night; this in itself can help you de-stress throughout the day. An extra hour of zzz’s can be a substitute for some of those early morning runs during your taper.
2. Yoga: Yoga is a great way to incorporate some flexibility in your routine and keep you relaxed as marathon day approaches. I would recommend a restorative yoga class to help relax and not overtax your body. If you have never taken a yoga class, now may not be the best time to start, but if it has made a regular appearance during your training, go for an extra class to keep you zen.
3. Take a Walk: Although the mileage is dwindling down, take a walk around your neighborhood to keep yourself mentally in the game! Put on a pair of shoes and walk with a friend. Catch up on quality time with friends you may have missed because of training. Talk about the excitement of race day and all of the things you accomplished in the months of training that just passed.
4. Visualize Your Race: Learn about the great streets of New York City. Scope out the race’s course map and elevation chart on the NYRR website. Plan your hydration strategies and figure out where you will drink Gatorade® or use gels. Connect with your friends and family about where to spot them on the course and have them download the TCS New York City Marathon app to track you!
5. Plan Ahead: Become familiar with race-day details such as how you are getting to the ferry or bus, what time you need to wake up and leave your house, how you will get home post-race, and what and when you will eat. Make a race-day checklist with items such as sunblock, hat, gels, gloves, and race number so that you know you are not missing anything on race day. Be prepared for anything along the way and have contingency plans for the weather.
6. Breathe and Enjoy: The important mileage is already done, and now is the time to stay loose, eat well, and enjoy the taper!
Leigh-Ann Plack is a physical therapist with Hospital for Special Surgery’s rehabilitation department. She received her doctorate in physical therapy at Northeastern University. Her clinical interests include gait mechanics and running injuries. She is currently working on her doctorate in education in applied exercise psychology at Columbia University.