We made it! Time to taper for everyone who trained through the brutal summer humidity, rains, and heat for a fall race. I know there were even some of you racing this week – CONGRATS!! For all of us that are racing in the next few weeks, this is recovery time.  The recommended time for a taper is 21 days. And those can seem like long days when you have been running high mileage and training hard. Some people don’t taper and some despise the taper. According to a recent study, athletes who taper before a race improve their performance by three percent. That can be as much as 5 to 10 minutes in a marathon. (!!!)

For a lot of runners, tapering leads to anxiety and phantom aches and pains. (Ok, well maybe just for me?) Last marathon, I was a borderline basket case – slash head case. I think in part, because I knew deep down my training was not the best. I ran through pain and had been over doing it for my fitness level. Despite issues with a certain left Achilles tendon, I am pretty pleased with my training the past 17 weeks. I didn’t hit the all of the numbers that I planned on, but I worked hard and saw real gains in my fitness and running. My legs are a little twitchy, wanting to run more, but those extra hours of sleep are little bits of heaven. Mileage has been dropped, but unlike other plans I have done in the past, there are some speed workouts and tempo runs right until the last week. I did the speed workout and instead of my tempo run, did a 5K.

All that being said, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am tapering, and it is going well. BUT. I am also running a 10-mile race the Saturday before the marathon. Now to some, this may sound down right stupid. I was actually told this is down right stupid, but when am I one to listen to rational, sound advice? Months ago we decided with a small group of friends, who were not really runners, that we would all do a race together. Something easy and fun. The suggestion was for the Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler. Done. Weeks later I realized it was exactly one week before Chicago. Ooops. So here is the plan: rock it out. We are going to run easy with our friends, take pictures, relax, and have an absolute blast. I can’t wait. Those runs are exactly what it is all about and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

By: Lianne Martin
To read more about the author, follow her on Twitter @sunshine_runner or check out her site SunshineRunner.com.

More from Fit Nation:
Summer Running with Lianne: Recovery
Summer Running with Lianne: Fuel Up
Summer Running with Lianne: The Last Long Run