Ten things to do while tapering for an ultramarathon

Taper can be challenging to get right. Your active kilometres, well, taper off to allow your body to recover from the slog of endurance training, and feel fresh for event day.

The challenges include too much time, not enough activity, still too hungry and logistics to get your head around.

I'm writing this from Briancon, in the week before the CCC at Chamonix. I've dubbed our Airbnb my "Briancon Bunker" where I'll finalise my preparation for the epic challenge to come, and this has inspired this post on things to do right before an ultramarathon.

1. Stay active

Even though the key to tapering is resting, don't just stop - keep your body moving. A light run or two, or perhaps some walking or low impact cross training can help stop your body from seizing up or switching off.

2. Stretch

There are two kinds of stretchers. Habitual stretchers and the rest of us who don't stretch enough. I know you can't play catch up if you're not the former but every little bit helps right?

3. Eat salad

As your training has decreased, your opportunities to burn calories also decrease. Unfortunately, the appetite you've built up through training for hours on end doesn't decrease. Opting for lower calorie options during taper might help keep taper tummy at bay.

4. Drink sparkling water

OK so this one might just be for me. I'm on holidays and up until the last week or so my wine intake has been a little higher than usual. So I've also substituting sparkling water for wine. Why sparkling water? It's a little bit posher than regular water. I feel like it's still kind of a treat.

5. Check, and pack, your mandatory gear

Most ultramarathons have a list of mandatory gear that needs to be carried throughout the race. Getting this ready to go early might help to relax your nerves and feel more prepared for the task at hand.

6. Decide whether your mandatory gear is enough

If your event is likely to be extra cold, or extra long, or extra wet, you might need backup. If you do, decide whether to carry extras, leave them with your crew, or make use of the event's drop bag service.

7. Sort out your gadgets

Think about whether you want to display something specific to your event on your GPS device. If you're worried about making cutoffs, you might want to keep tabs on the time of day, or your overall pace. If you're worried about navigation, you might want to load the course. You might have unnecessary data displaying that's helpful in training but might mess with your head on event day. Also think about whether your GPS will make it through and if not, whether to carry a recharge pack.

8. Go to work!

Being on holidays during taper means very little to do and lots of time to do it. Depending on what you do for a living and how far away from home your event is, going to work could be a great way to keep yourself occupied.

9. Write your race plan

Most of this is probably in your head as through your training and your other preparation you've thought about what you'll wear, carry, eat, how you'll pace yourself and so on. Read through your event's participant guide to find out any specifics about the start and briefing and have your logistics sorted for event day too. Nothing beats putting all of this in writing, not only for yourself but also to help your crew if you have one.

10. Do something fun

If you're NOT at work, read a book, do a jigsaw, binge on your favourite trashy TV show, or catch up on your podcasts.

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