Tapering for a 100 Race

Sarah McMahon
4 min readJul 14, 2023

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

I read a lukewarm article about tapering and the “taper tantrums” from UltraSignup the other day (read it here, or don’t). It was weird because the bulk of the article was an interview with a guy who struggled so heavily with reducing his mileage that he started binge eating (to the point of gaining 10 pounds) before one race and doing excessive step aerobics (to the point of excessive soreness) before another. “Taper tantrums” is runner lingo for going a bit mad due to a reduction in mileage. If you’re used to high mileage and consistent physical movement, it makes sense that slowing down will have some effect on your mental state. I’m just not so sure that we’re talking about tapering in a healthy, helpful way.

Tapering usually occurs in the final week or two of your training plan. I’ve been running consistent 60–65 mile weeks during my current training block. Two weeks out from my race, I bumped that down to 45 with no high intensity runs. The week before my race, I’ll run once or twice, three to four miles each. Tapering systemically reduces your exercise intensity and training load leading up to race day. It allows the body to rest while maintaining fitness. The point of tapering isn’t to rest completely, but the hay is already in the barn, so to speak.