Tips For Marathon Runners During Taper Week

Marathon Runner’s…Time To Taper!

To those of you who have been training for a Spring Marathon…Congratulations! You have completed the weeks of big mileage in the wind and rain! You have juggled the commitments of life and a busy training schedule! You have, no doubt battled with tired legs, blisters and more. Its now time to taper.

Do you really need to taper following a Marathon training program? YES! Let me tell you why, and how to get the most out of your taper period.

Ideally, a Marathon runner will give themselves the last 12-14 days pre-race to taper. This means reducing the miles and managing fatigue so your body and mind are fresh for the big event.

Aim To Cut Your Weekly Mileage By 50% During Your Taper. This Can Feel Alien When You Are Conditioned To Running A High Volume So Follow These Top Tips To Make The Most Of Your Taper.

  1. Keep your running frequency the same! If you have been running 4-5 times a week continue this just reduce the length of your runs.
  2. Maintain intensity! Continue with an interval session or tempo run if you are used to higher intensity sessions. Working hard will help you with your mental preparation but limiting it to 40-60 minutes will enable the recovery your body needs.
  3. Continue with strength training and/ or rehab exercises if you have been doing them but nothing too challenging and drop the weights a little.
  4. Using a foam roller, massage gun or having a pre-race massage is a great way of helping your body and mind feel in top condition for event day.
  5. Carbo load! This doesn’t mean a big bowl of pasta the evening before your run. Instead slightly increase carbohydrate intake for 2-3 days up to the event.

The Taper Period Is Also A Great Time To Mentally Prepare For The Challenge Ahead. You Can Remove A Lot Of Stress From The Event Day By Giving Some Consideration To The Following Things:

  1. Check your route! Race organisers are usually great at emailing details about location, parking, bag drops etc. Being familiar with the details will help you keep calm on the day.
  2. Check your kit! Choose your race day clothes right down to your socks and keep to one side. If you’re wearing a charity vest make sure you have run in it and its comfortable.
  3. Check your nutrition! Get stocked up with your favourite protein supplements and hydration drinks but don’t be tempted to try anything new.
  4. Plan your race strategy! You may have a target pace. You may wish to re-fuel at certain points. You may want to mentally break down the course into segments. Now is the time to choose how you are going to mentally attack the event.
  5. Plan your plan B strategy…and C! Things don’t always go to plan. Conditions may be warmer than expected, you may get held up by running traffic or need a loo stop. Its always good to have a plan B. Its very difficult to make decisions mid-race so thinking beforehand about what you will do if plan A isn’t happening is helpful. If you have to walk then walk but plan how long you will walk for (e.g. 2 mins) and how often (e.g. every 1.5 miles).

A Final Thought

Two weeks pre-event you can’t get fitter but you can get more fatigued! Squeezing in extra mileage at this point won’t help you come event day, but preparing you mind and body for the challenge ahead and being fresh on the start line will give you the best chance of achieving your goal.

Good luck and most importantly, enjoy!

Claire Reach – Specialist Running Physiotherapist

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