Trust the taper!
Marathon tapering involves a decrease of exercise duration and exercise intensity before a major race. Depending upon the athlete tapering can start anywhere between one week to three weeks prior to the race.
The aim of tapering is to balance fitness while supporting recovery.
How to taper!
Three weeks before race:
- Cut back on total weekly mileage by 10% – 20%. For example a 40-mile week cut back to between 32-36 miles.
- Keep same training intensity as previous weeks for workouts
- Cut back on your long run distance by 10% – 20%. For example a 20-mile long run cut back to between 16-18 miles.
Two weeks before race:
- Cut back on total weekly mileage by 25% – 30%. For example a 40-mile week cut back to between 32-28 miles.
- Perform your last medium intensity workout early on in the week. A tempo run or a workout marathon specific. Don’t be tempted to squeeze in a fast track session! Again reduce the distance & intensity of the workout.
- Cut back on your long run distance even further. If your still feeling fatigued, don’t be scared to reduce the mileage and settle for a shorter run.
Week of race: (Taper Madness)
- Cut back on total weekly mileage even further by reducing daily runs by 50%. Possibly take an extra rest day.
- A short fartlek session just to remind you of what marathon pace feels like.
- I’d recommend taking a 45-60 mins walk the day before the marathon to help calm your nerves and get in a little exercise. Practice visualisation of running the race and when and where you’ll take on board water, food etc and crossing the finishing line.
Tapering for a marathon is harder than the actual training. I mentioned taper madness earlier and you may well experience some of these: being over cautious about everything, phantom illness and injury, checking the weather every 5 mins, unusually emotional and weight gain.
A few things to bear in mind! Don’t try to squeeze in a long run or hard session as you’ll more than likely pick up an unwanted injury. As the amount of training decreases you’ll find yourself with more available free time on your hands. Use it wisely! Enjoy social activities such as: catching up with your family and friends, watch a movie or rest. Research the marathon course. Make a plan with any family and friends on where they are going to be standing to cheer you on so you can look forward to seeing them on race day. Write your race day checklist. Don’t try anything new.