Marathon Tapering Tips: Prepare to Run Your Best Marathon [Ep46]

15 Apr 2016 05:51 27
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Marathon tapering is an important part of your training. If you’re coming towards the end of your marathon training, it’s important that you get your taper spot-on, and put yourself in the best physical condition, rested but ready, come race day!

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In these last few weeks before your marathon, the quality of your taper will make a huge difference to your marathon performance on the big day. Unless this is your first marathon, you’ll already know that the taper period can be a nerve wracking few weeks! All sorts of questions and worries go through your head. I can’t emphasise strongly enough; trust in your training, and don’t fall into any one of the traps I see runners falling for all the time...

Marathon training is hard on your body. Particularly during those big weeks, and long runs you put your body under a considerable amount of stress, both in terms of impact on the joints, and energy systems. If training has gone to plan, by the time you hit your taper, you’re just the right side of the fine line between training hard, and physical burn-out. That’s what it takes! So, it’s important that you’re properly rested ahead of Marathon day. Putting yourself in a position where you’re going to be best perform.

That said, too much rest can be a good thing! The trick to getting the taper period right is giving your body just the right stimulus to maintain your speed and spark in the legs, while also allowing proper recovery from the big training weeks just past.

As with so many things in terms of training, people respond differently to varied lengths of marathon tapering schedule. Usually, I’ll get a marathon runner tapering for three weeks before race day, with the taper obviously beginning immediately after the last long run.

Don’t book your first ever deep sports massage during your taper. You have no idea how your body will react!

The same can be said for footwear and nutrition. At this point, your best bet is to stick with what your body knows. You’ve got this far in your training, don’t sabotage your marathon drams by adding a new unknown into the mix. While your taper is all about allowing your body to recover from an intense training period, coming out of the taper ready to go, it’s important to keep your body stimulated by running regularly, and with a little intensity thrown in to keep you sharp.

If you’re doing a three week taper, the first week can still be 80-90% of your biggest week’s run volume. The long run at around about 12-14 miles should be about right. Week two can be roughly 70% of your peak running volume, with the long run at 10 miles. In the week ahead of the marathon I usually get people doing two or three easy 4-6 mile sessions, and a 2-3 mile tempo or fartlek session of the same distance, to keep the speed in the legs. This isn’t just specific to marathon tapering, but marathon training in general. If the worst happens and you’re struck by injury or illness, you’ll have to re-organise your programme most likely, but don’t cut corners and play catch-up by trying to add a confidence building 16+ mile run during your taper period. You’ll be doing more harm than good in many cases.

There’s no two ways about it, even the most perfectly executed marathon programme will require you to dig deep on the big day if you’re going to run to your potential.

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ABOUT ME: I'm a runner, sports rehabilitation specialist and coach based in the UK (Norwich and London).

Since 2007 I've been working with athletes focusing specifically on helping distance runners and triathletes overcome injury and improve performance through developing their individual running technique.

Running biomechanics has become a geeky little passion of mine!

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