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It’s Taper Time!

How to avoid tantrums and embrace normality

Runners are a strange bunch. When it is time to taper, runners are forced to rest more and embrace societal norms. 

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As summer trail running comes to an end, so are training cycles. It’s the time of year when runners reduce mileage and begin to taper. On paper, a taper means extra time to rest and rejuvenate before a goal race. In reality, a taper can feel like being a lost puppy trying to navigate a new and normal world. If you are feeling antsy, edgy, and confused during your taper, here are some tips for avoiding tantrums and embracing regular society:

  1. Call a non-runner friend. Have you lost touch with a good friend due to hours on the trails and in the mountains? Now is the time to rekindle relationships that may have taken a backseat during peak training.
  2. Make breakfast, eat it. Then make second breakfast. Not running out the door at 5 a.m. for a four hour training run? Try that pancake recipe for you and your loved ones.

Hungry Breakfast GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

  1. Tackle your to do list. Start with the tabs on your computer. Then organize the running shoe closet. Then clean out the gel wrappers from your running pack. Then mow the lawn.
  2. Return the favour. Perhaps someone rescued you when you were lost on a run, or let you eat half of their dinner when you were “rangry”.  Now is the time to thank the friends, family, or strangers who have supported you during training.
  3. Instagram something non-running related. Throw your followers a curve ball with a picture of you and your new hobby. #knittinglife  
New hobby
Photo: Instagram

6. Read that novel. Or write your own. Chances are Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning was written during a taper.   

7. Work overtime. When there are a few more hours in your schedule, a taper is a great time to put effort into non-running-related activities. Ultra working may result in bonus time off for your next “runcation.”

8. Stay up past your bedtime. Then sleep in. 

Time For Bed Bedtime GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

9. Play tourist in your own town. Always wanted to go to the museum down the road? An extra five hours on a Saturday may be your opportunity to explore the civilized world.

10. Say yes to Settlers of Catan parties, or wine night, pottery lessons, Netflix marathons, or other activities that do not include running.

11. Chill out. Ever wondered what it’s like to lie on the beach and relax? Walk in the forest with a latte? Take the gondola up a mountain instead of run? Shower in the morning without sweating? Taper time is the best time to practice being normal for a few days.


 12. Take off your watch. Yes, you read that correctly. Just don’t forget to charge it before race day.

For runners, being normal isn’t easy. Navigating a world where running isn’t the centre of the universe can be challenging. Tapering involves tantrums as well as opportunities to embrace activities outside of running.