Taper Tips & Setting Goals for Race Day

The weeks leading up to your upcoming race can be some of the most exciting and nerve-wracking days of the year, as you watch all your hard training come down to one day. But don’t forget about those few weeks before that—known as taper time! This is a key part in achieving maximum performance on race day and it’s absolutely essential to get everything right during these final few weeks. That’s why we’ve compiled 6 essential tips for tapering during this crucial period and setting achievable goals for race day success. We’ll help keep you motivated through this last stretch so that when it comes time to hit the starting line, you can do your personal best with full confidence and support.

So, let’s dig into our expert advice and give yourself every possible advantage – read on!

6 Tips to Get you through Taper

Taper is a time to rest and recover from the hard work you’ve put in. It can be tough to scale back on your running after so much time dedicated to training, but it’s necessary for race day success. Stick with us as we go over 6 taper tips that will help you stay focused and ready for race day.

  1. No new workouts – now is not the best time to roll your ankle playing basketball or pull a muscle lifting heavy weights. It is ok to go for easy short runs or cross-training but now is not the time to put in hard miles or long runs.
  2. Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water throughout the week leading up to race day so you aren’t dehydrated come race morning
  3. Get enough sleep – Your body needs rest in order to recover and be primed for completing a half marathon
  4. Fuel properly and eat healthy – Fueling yourself properly is key during this last week before race day. This means before and on the course, check out our nutrition guide. 
  5. Relax – Take some downtime, enjoy life outside of running, spend quality time with friends or family members who support you, listen to music or read a book… whatever relaxes you most!
  6. Get mentally prepared for race day – Set your race day goals and get your mind in a positive and supportive space to push you through. We cover this more below.

Setting Your Race Day Goals

Taper time is the perfect time to step back and assess your goals for race day. Your training is complete and you now know where you stand in terms of being prepared and any setbacks that you are facing. Setting these goals can hold you accountable, be motivating, and build confidence. Here is one of our favorite strategies for goal setting that can lead you to success, the “ABC’s of Goal Setting”.

Set an “A” Goal.

Your “A” goal is one that may seem beyond what you can achieve or highly unlikely unless things go perfectly. If you can stay focused on your “A” goal, this can give you all the motivation you need to do all the small things along the way that ultimately leads you to achieve it. “A” goals can also be overwhelming and cause people to give up because they seem impossible at times. This is why “B”, and “C” goals are important.

Example: I want to run a personal best by 10 minutes

Example: I want to finish in the top 10 of my age group.

Setting “B” Goals

Your “B” goal is a goal that you would be happy to achieve and you are pretty certain if you put in the work, you will reach it. “B” goals are good to share with others to give you some outside accountability. Reaching “B” goals are also what you need to achieve to keep you working towards your “A” goal. The idea is for all your smaller achievements to build into larger achievements.

Example: I want to run at least one negative split

Example: I want to Stick to my nutrition plan

Setting “C” Goals

Setting Goals C goals“C” goals are the lower-hanging fruit that gives you your daily motivation, keeps you on task, and builds your confidence to reach higher goals. Your “C” goals are built into your daily routine and without accomplishing these, there is no way to achieve the others.

Example: I want to run the whole distance without walking

Example: I want to get an awesome finisher photo, so I’m going to remember to smile

Example: I want to just complete the race and get my finisher medal.

Pro Tips for Setting Race Day Goals:

  • Set realistic goals: Be realistic about where you are currently at and start setting your goals from there.
  • Set goals that build on each other: Make sure you are thinking strategically about how achieving some of your lower goals will allow you to reach the higher ones.
  • Adjust your lower goals: Adjusting your lower goals are important because life throws you curveballs sometimes and it is key to experiencing success in your daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Without these successes, you will become frustrated and give up.
  • Reward: Last but not least, set up a little reward system for yourself. There is enough negative reinforcement tied to not reaching your goals, but in general, you need positive reinforcement to make the process enjoyable.
  • To reach goals you also have to sacrifice. It is OK to reward yourself with small amounts of things you are giving up to achieve your goals.

Taking time off for a “proper taper” and setting goals can help make this last stage of training more enjoyable and productive. Spend some time off to reflect on how far you have come during your training process so that you can set even higher goals for race day! Whether it be an end goal like finishing first or making sure not to walk the next 5k, we hope these suggestions will prove helpful as you prepare yourself mentally and physically for what lies ahead.

What are your top three goals going into the final days before race day? We want to hear from you! Post a story on Instagram and be sure to tag us @3MHalfMarathon.