I’m tapering for my first 100-mile ultramarathon. Not only in the traditional sense…

Tapering for a race is expected. Tapering for an ultra marathon is normal. A taper of physical training is important for feeling rested and physically prepared to accomplish a great task of endurance, like an ultramarathon.

A taper is a reduction in training volume or intensity, or both, before a race. It is widely practiced in endurance sports to allow the body to rest and heal completely before a period of high stress.

Endurance sports, like ultra marathons, require great energy output over an extended period of time; physical training is essential to success. Tapering has become an athlete’s way of putting his or her best foot forward physically.

Have you ever heard someone say It’s all in your head or Mindset is key or Mental preparation is of equal importance?

Do you agree?

If ultrarunning is mostly a mental game, as people say, shouldn’t mental tapering be prioritized even more than a physical taper?

Can one mentally taper for an ultramarathon?

You Should Also Check Out…
Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

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You’ve set the stage for your first ultra marathon; the lights are on, the floor is swept, and there is no more preparation to be done. You’re ready. You’ve trained with purpose (NOT like this) and have aligned your actions with the goals you’ve set. You’ve peaked your mileage and have put in multiple back-to-back long runs. You’ve stretched, strengthened, and rested; your body is ready to run for 50 miles, 100 miles, or more.

For a physical taper, I reduce mileage two weeks before the race by about 20% and increase stretching and mobility work. The week before the race, I will run a handful of times to get the blood flowing and keep the stretching volume high.

I believe physcial tapers really are that simple, if you even practice them at all. A period of decreased volume and intensity before something as monumental as an ultra marathon will (without any scientific proof) help prevent injury. I’ve seen it work for myself in my first 100 mile race that I was totally unprepared for.

So, with your body ready to traverse the difference and conquer the mountain, where is your mindset? Are you excited? Nervous?

Probably both; many other emotions, I’m sure, flood your mind.

Take a deep breath. Again.

Is the mental side of training, including a taper, as important as the physcial?

I think so; here’s four ways I mentally taper before challenges of great mental endurance.

1.) Sleep more, think less

Sleep is highly regarded among endurance athletes like trail and ultra runners because of its healing properties; there is no need to go into this topic; I won’t bore you with common knowledge. I’m going to pass early morning training sessions to the afternoon or evening and sleep in, or go to bed earlier than I normally do for morning training. After all, an ultra marathon is all in your head; I know how great my mind feels after 9 or 10 hours of sleep.

2.) Stretch more, run less

While I can’t claim to have the stretching obsession of David Goggins, I’m getting there. I have never felt physically or mentally more prepared for anything than after a few days of intentional stretching. It works. I normally shoot for an hour a day; the final couple weeks before a race I push that number closer to 2 hours. Relax, breathe, take your time and understand your body.

3.) Spend more time outdoors

I may regret this one when I am running along a trail for 24+ hours, but I love the outdoors. The outdoors, in all its beauty and adventure, drove me to trail and ultra running initially, so I am getting back to my roots and remembering why I love trails and mountains and rivers and the Great Outdoors. Relax and breathe; take in the world. Go out for a few walks, read your favorite book in the local park, or enjoy a bike ride.

4.) Decluttering

I haven’t fully committed to minimalism, but as I prepare gear and pack for an ultra marathon, I get rid of things that I no longer have a need for. I’ve packed up three garbage bags of clothes and gotten rid of a desk and dresser all before one race; find value in quality over quantity and enjoy simplicity. A decluttered living space leads to a more organized mind; right now, you need your mind focused on all the right things, like crossing that finish line.

Now, physical tapering is effective with proper training to give the body rest for a monumental task. Notice the important “with proper training.” A mental taper works the same way; have you prepared mentally for the task ahead? A mental taper should not be a frantic attempt to shed stress in nervous anticipation of your first 100-mile ultra marathon. It acts the same way a physical taper does; allow the mind to rest and relax in preparation for an impending challenge, knowing full well the confidence supporting the taper has been built in consistent mental training. Without consistent training, a physical taper or a mental one diminishes in value; be intentional in training and in tapering.

What does proper mental training look like?

A lot of it has to do with decisions, actions, and goal setting. Check out How to Run 100 Miles (even if your race is a shorter difference!) and follow Wicked Trail on Instagram for a lot more on these topics. Subscribe to our newsletter below so you never miss another post like this one. Wicked Trail brings a unique perspective to the world of endurance and ultrarunning.

Do you taper physically? Have you ever tapered mentally? Was it intentional or simply an unplanned ‘destress period?’ How has it impacted the races you have completed?

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

I’m tapering for my first 100-mile ultramarathon. Not only in the traditional sense…

Tapering for a race is expected. Tapering for an ultra marathon is normal. A taper of physical training is important for feeling rested and physically prepared to accomplish a great task of endurance, like an ultramarathon.

A taper is a reduction in training volume or intensity, or both, before a race. It is widely practiced in endurance sports to allow the body to rest and heal completely before a period of high stress.

Endurance sports, like ultra marathons, require great energy output over an extended period of time; physical training is essential to success. Tapering has become an athlete’s way of putting his or her best foot forward physically.

Have you ever heard someone say It’s all in your head or Mindset is key or Mental preparation is of equal importance?

Do you agree?

If ultrarunning is mostly a mental game, as people say, shouldn’t mental tapering be prioritized even more than a physical taper?

Can one mentally taper for an ultramarathon?

You Should Also Check Out…
Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

You’ve set the stage for your first ultra marathon; the lights are on, the floor is swept, and there is no more preparation to be done. You’re ready. You’ve trained with purpose (NOT like this) and have aligned your actions with the goals you’ve set. You’ve peaked your mileage and have put in multiple back-to-back long runs. You’ve stretched, strengthened, and rested; your body is ready to run for 50 miles, 100 miles, or more.

For a physical taper, I reduce mileage two weeks before the race by about 20% and increase stretching and mobility work. The week before the race, I will run a handful of times to get the blood flowing and keep the stretching volume high.

I believe physcial tapers really are that simple, if you even practice them at all. A period of decreased volume and intensity before something as monumental as an ultra marathon will (without any scientific proof) help prevent injury. I’ve seen it work for myself in my first 100 mile race that I was totally unprepared for.

So, with your body ready to traverse the difference and conquer the mountain, where is your mindset? Are you excited? Nervous?

Probably both; many other emotions, I’m sure, flood your mind.

Take a deep breath. Again.

Is the mental side of training, including a taper, as important as the physcial?

I think so; here’s four ways I mentally taper before challenges of great mental endurance.

1.) Sleep more, think less

Sleep is highly regarded among endurance athletes like trail and ultra runners because of its healing properties; there is no need to go into this topic; I won’t bore you with common knowledge. I’m going to pass early morning training sessions to the afternoon or evening and sleep in, or go to bed earlier than I normally do for morning training. After all, an ultra marathon is all in your head; I know how great my mind feels after 9 or 10 hours of sleep.

2.) Stretch more, run less

While I can’t claim to have the stretching obsession of David Goggins, I’m getting there. I have never felt physically or mentally more prepared for anything than after a few days of intentional stretching. It works. I normally shoot for an hour a day; the final couple weeks before a race I push that number closer to 2 hours. Relax, breathe, take your time and understand your body.

3.) Spend more time outdoors

I may regret this one when I am running along a trail for 24+ hours, but I love the outdoors. The outdoors, in all its beauty and adventure, drove me to trail and ultra running initially, so I am getting back to my roots and remembering why I love trails and mountains and rivers and the Great Outdoors. Relax and breathe; take in the world. Go out for a few walks, read your favorite book in the local park, or enjoy a bike ride.

4.) Decluttering

I haven’t fully committed to minimalism, but as I prepare gear and pack for an ultra marathon, I get rid of things that I no longer have a need for. I’ve packed up three garbage bags of clothes and gotten rid of a desk and dresser all before one race; find value in quality over quantity and enjoy simplicity. A decluttered living space leads to a more organized mind; right now, you need your mind focused on all the right things, like crossing that finish line.

Now, physical tapering is effective with proper training to give the body rest for a monumental task. Notice the important “with proper training.” A mental taper works the same way; have you prepared mentally for the task ahead? A mental taper should not be a frantic attempt to shed stress in nervous anticipation of your first 100-mile ultra marathon. It acts the same way a physical taper does; allow the mind to rest and relax in preparation for an impending challenge, knowing full well the confidence supporting the taper has been built in consistent mental training. Without consistent training, a physical taper or a mental one diminishes in value; be intentional in training and in tapering.

What does proper mental training look like?

A lot of it has to do with decisions, actions, and goal setting. Check out How to Run 100 Miles (even if your race is a shorter difference!) and follow Wicked Trail on Instagram for a lot more on these topics. Subscribe to our newsletter below so you never miss another post like this one. Wicked Trail brings a unique perspective to the world of endurance and ultrarunning.

Do you taper physically? Have you ever tapered mentally? Was it intentional or simply an unplanned ‘destress period?’ How has it impacted the races you have completed?

You Should Also Check Out…
Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

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