It’s the final few weeks before your marathon, you’ve worked hard to get yourself to where you are now, but how do you adjust your training so you can turn up to the start line as fresh and ready as possible?
Tapering is an effective tool to keep you fresh for race day, prevent overtraining and injuries, and make sure your marathon or half marathon goes as smoothly as possible.
What is tapering?
Tapering is when runners gradually reduce their training intensity and volume on the lead up to a race. This allows your bodies time to recover before intense exercise, like a marathon. It also takes time to build up fitness, so if you’re cramming in your long runs as close as 2 weeks before your race, it’s not likely to have an effect on your overall fitness, and you’ll likely damage your performance from being overtired.
Balance is key
While tapering is important in getting your body ready, it’s important not to overdo it. Our bodies don’t like change, so keep your frequency of runs the same and don’t take too many rest days, or you could risk feeling sluggish at the start line. If you’re used to running 4 times a week, keep running 4 times a week, but reduce your run intensity or volume as you get closer to the big day. If you feel like you need an extra rest day, don’t be afraid to take it – it’s important to get stay well rested.
3-4 weeks out
This is where you should do your longest run – any closer to race day and you risk not recovering in time. Your long session could be 3 hours with the last 60 minutes at your target marathon pace. Don’t stress too much if your long run doesn’t go perfectly – the adrenaline of race day and the support from the crowd will likely help you out on the day.
2 weeks out
Don’t be tempted to change anything in your training plan now in terms of frequency – stick to your plan. Instead, focus on quicker sessions with a top run of around 2 hours. By the time it reaches 10 days out, make sure your volumes have been reduced.
1 week out
It’s time to focus on reduced volume, easier and faster sessions, and making sure your longest run is 75-90 minutes maximum. You can also add in an additional rest day, and use the extra time to catch up on some sleep, as your body adapts to training during sleep.
It’s tick-over time. Stick to easy runs of 30-45 minutes maximum, with light sessions early on in the week. Warm up your legs the day before by going for a 10 minute jog, but as it gets closer to the day of the event make sure you’ve got your feet up as much as you can.
Assist your tapering and preparation by keeping your body fuelled – on race week, don’t let yourself get hungry and make sure to snack and graze in between meals. Make sure you’ve got your race day nutrition down and you’re ready to go! Read our Marathon Nutrition Guide and our blog on the last week before a marathon for more information.
Need more info on preparing for your marathon? Watch our webinar with running coach Nick Anderson for a more detailed rundown on the lead up to a race.
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