Ultra Training and Taper Week Jitters

Long miles, sore legs, and anxious nerves! I've put in the work for my next ultra, but calming the taper week jitters may be just as tough as the training.
Photos by Jared Seger Photography

I definitely feel like I've put in more work and more training than I did for my first ultra earlier this year. All thanks to my coach at Lifelong Endurance, I've had a pretty challenging but structured running plan.

My last long run felt really good. I ran it faster than planned, and even went an extra mile because I was feeling so strong. It really made me feel a little more confident. Here's that workout from my Lifelong Endurance training plan on the Training Peaks app:

Roughly 30-40+ miles a week. 8-10 hours of running a week. Plus plenty of cross training. So why am I still so nervous?! 

Inside my head it's chaos: I worry about the hills. Did I do enough hill training? I get anxious about pace. I didn't do much speed work! I'm still so hungry. I might gain too much weight before race day!

However, I get this way before every race. The bigger the race, the higher my anxiety spikes. I'm sure many runners get this way. I just need to learn to tame the taper-crazies and calm down. But it's a struggle nonetheless.

I'm also running with a large group of friends so part of me wants to do well as a way to "prove myself" to them. I've always been a little competitive and I know deep down I want to do well and impress them. However, I know that just finishing will make them proud and should focus on that.

On the bright side, there are plenty of exciting things to look forward to with this race!  The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k in San Francisco will be one of the most scenic courses I've ever ran! I get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge and climb high with views of the Bay down below. So regardless of my race jitters, I'll be able to enjoy running a fantastic course.

San Francisco is also an exciting city to visit. I've been a few times and always have a blast when I go. Maybe I'm partly mixing my anxiety with my anticipation and excitement for the event!

Last but not least, my partner Jason will be running the 50k with me and it's his first ultra. I'm glad we've gotten to experience his ultra training journey together, and so happy that I'll be there for his exciting finish.

So while I'm working on taming the taper week crazies, I do have to focus on other things to make sure I'm fresh come race day. Which brings me to some of my personal tips for taking care of yourself during taper week!
  • Stay Hydrated. I drink plenty of water throughout the week. Definitely no alcohol. On the course this year they will have Hammer Nutrition products and thankfully that's what I've been training with lately! So my advice is to always stay on top of your fluids and keep the muscles "lubed up" and well hydrated before race day. 
  • Stay Active. I stick to light workouts like cross-training or smaller runs. The light activity will help calm the "oh-my-gosh-I-need-to-go-run-now" nervousness. 
  • Stretch It Out. I'll do a little Yoga at home, and use my foam roller and massage sticks to keep tight muscles loose and really work out any kinks or "problem areas". I've also recently been using an at-home cupping kit to really dig deep into the knots and loosen everything up.
  • Eat! This is probably the most difficult for me.. because I'm ALWAYS HUNGRY. But moderation is key. I try not to overdo the carbs but I have to remember to eat well and slowly work in some carbs leading up to race day.
  • Rest. Even with a busy schedule, I make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep.. preferably 8 when I can. And especially leading up to race day. Let's face it, the night before none of us can sleep well. Whether it's the pre-race jitters or the extremely early race starts... it's best to bank some extra hours in bed so our bodies aren't deprived race day morning!
What tips do YOU have for tapering? How do you calm yourself down in the days leading up to race day? Let me hear them in the comments below!

Wish me luck and look for the race report afterwards. Until then... Happy Running!


  1. Good luck with your run! Great tips. Before my first ultra this year I listed to a lot of podcasts from Run Trail Nation which kept my mind off my event but totally immersed in trail running! Luckily it didn't make me stress about not having done enough!!!

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