Don't fall for tapering's tricks

Summer Sanders shares tips for pace training as she prepares for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.



The suspense won't last much longer -- there's less than two weeks to my race. How about yours? Are you counting down the days, too?

I love this point in training, every time. I remember getting butterflies before the Chicago Marathon. It's part of the pleasure of building up to something you have to work so hard to reach. It's what makes that finish line so much sweeter.

Tapering is your time to slow down and concentrate on the details. Embrace and enjoy the nervous excitement that is coming soon, if you don't feel it already. I always get that feeling in my stomach before a race; it was the same in swimming.

That reminds me of something my swimming coach used to always tell me. I remember he would yell it out if he thought we weren't paying attention: When you taper in the pool, you taper the table. It's perfect advice in your final weeks before a big race, any type of race or sporting event, really. I still live by those words.

You know my feelings on nutrition by now. When you're training extremely hard, you often don't have the inclination or energy to eat a ton. You have time and energy to think about pigging out when you finally slow down at this point in your training. This week is when you reach for the snack stuff that your body doesn't necessarily need.

Don't fall for tapering's tricks. Snack city is not OK, especially when you're this close to your big race. A few extra pounds means more to lug when you're out on the course. I know I don't want to make my race any harder after all the time and preparation I've put in.

My advice now is to eat when you're hungry. Don't grab junk because you're bored or nervous. If you just ate and you're feeling like a snack, go for a glass of water. It's so important to hydrate and get your body ready.

I'm feeling nervous because it's normal. Your fellow runners are in the same boat; I always remind myself everyone is nervous. Reach out to friends who are doing the race with you, or one coming up, and they'll tell you the truth. They don't know what race day will bring, either. The best we can do is trust in what we've been doing all this time. Treat your body well this week because you want it to deliver when it really counts.

Without all of these stages of training, build-up and preparation, a race wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't feel so good! That adrenaline rush will be coming your way; that chance to look at your fellow runners and look back on all those runs, meals and moments of training. It's just around the corner.

Summer is ready for whatever comes her way over the next 13 days. She knows now is not the time to worry about the weather (snow, you can't stop me now!) or missing a long run earlier in her training (forget that flu!). As Summer looks ahead toward race day, come along with her on this fantastic journey. Your goal this week: Be sure to get multiple nights of good sleep while you're still home.

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