How to Taper ready for the big day
Tapering can be the most enjoyable phase of any training cycle or the most stressful, it is a surreal but wholly necessary period leading up to an event where you rest and recover from the relentless pursuit GPS stats which have bothered your waking hours for the preceding few months.
There are many different emotions felt by the tapering runner, these can lead to many tapering-related phenomena’s which are extremely common. We become obsessed with checking weather forecasts suddenly trusting a long range forecast and feeling genuinely let down when it changes! Our legs have a habit of feeling heavier and weaker than they ever had (fuelled by a conviction of self-doubt), our sleep becomes constantly interrupted by dreams of missing the start, forgetting our running shoes or worse! Suddenly we develop the ninja like skill to spot a person with a cold a mile off and will find many an excuse why it would be ok if we didn’t achieve the time we were originally hoping for.
Follow our simple tips below to help make sure your final weeks are as smooth as possible meaning you get to the start line in the best frame of mind.
The final long run before the event and how far should you run?
A mistake a lot of people make as part of their training is running too far! The most common reason for this is they ‘just want to make sure they can do it’. Remember you are training to run the distance on the day and running further than needed increases the risk of injury. You would be better off spending the time doing good quality race specific sessions. During your long run, use gels and drinks how you are planning to one the day, wear the same kit you are going to use, if possible have the same breakfast and go at the same time of day.
For a marathon 18-22 miles depending on your goals and experience is plenty, for a ½ Marathon 8 – 11 miles and for a 10k 5 miles is enough.
How long should I be tapering and how do I structure my training?
2-3 weeks is a good length of time for a marathon, 10 days-2 weeks for a half and 10 days – 1 week for a 10k is about right again depending on experience.
To work out how far you should be running during your taper, divide the length of time you will be tapering into 2 halves. Then with this length of time, find the highest mileage volume in your training plan for this length of time i.e. if your tapering for 2 weeks then use the total volume of your hardest 7 days and your taper will consist of 2×7 day halves.
For the first half of your taper run 50% of the volume of your hardest period and keep the intensity the same. Then for the second half reduce the volume down to 25% and remove all of the intensity.
What other considerations should I have for this time?
Eat well, sleep well (when not being woken by the inevitable dream about forgetting to wear running shorts) and organise where your supporters will be standing – including what side of the road they are planning to be. The most important high carbohydrate meal is 2 evenings before, where you should try to eat a well practiced meal that you know you can easily digest. This leaves you to eat good quality, carbohydrate meals the day before, but make sure you don’t go to bed feeling bloated and full. Remember energy drinks also count towards your carb intake so sipping a bottle throughout the day before will help if you’re struggling with the onslaught of pasta and potatoes. Remember to trim your toe nails, practice your race day grimace/smile and check the weather forecast 1 more time!
During this time it is important to think positive, remind yourself why you are doing this and what inspired you in the first place. Look back on your training plan and think about how far you have come in this journey.
Remember there is no better feeling than crossing that finish line!