The taper is the final, crucial element to your training. In simple terms it’s your period of cutting back to allow your body absorb and adapt to all the weeks of hard training you now have in the bank. The taper can make or break your training.
We partnered up with Running With Us to put together some top tips to help you get to the start line feeling strong and fresh!
It’s easy to get caught up with questioning if you have done enough, focusing on what you many have missed or what someone else has done. Look back over the last 10 weeks of you training and note down 2-3 positives for each week; a training session that went well, a race your smashed, a run your fuelled perfectly. You’ll end up with 20-30 positive statements; keep these at the forefront of your mind when the gremlins start to talk to you.
Our big tip is don't taper too much your body likes routine and if you add too many rest days it is possible to feel sluggish by race day. Aim to maintain the frequency of your running, if you normally run 4 times a week, run 4 times a week in the final two weeks. Aim to reduce the volume of these runs by about 30% two weeks out and 50% in race week.
You can use the final weeks to sharpen up slightly with a couple of shorter faster sessions and even a 5k parkrun a week out from race day. Sessions which include a few short efforts (400m reps or 90 second intervals) around your 5km race pace can be great for getting your legs moving.
Turn down the volume
Your longest training run should be 3 or 4 weeks out from race day. A top session could be 3 hours with the last 60 mins at your target marathon pace. Two weeks out from the race look to cut this down to about 2 hours, again w1ith some of your planned race pace in the final hour. A week out its 75-90 minutes of relaxed, easy running and enjoying the Sunday papers!
Hit your peak
Look to make your final key session about 10 days out from race day.
* 75-90 minutes with 3 x 10 mins @ threshold off a 3-5 min jog recovery.
* 15 minutes race pace + 5 x 3 mins @ 10k pace + 15 mins race pace all with a 2 min jog recovery.
* 75 minutes with 6 x 5 mins @ threshold off a 90 second jog recovery.
Forget the watch
It’s common to feel a bit rusty in race week itself as your body stores adrenaline for the big day. Don’t chase time or worry about the GPS stats just run easy and keep relaxed.
Get to bed
Your body adapts to training and releases crucial growth hormones in the deep sleep phase of your sleep. Banish the smart phones and tablets from the bedroom, aim to eat a little earlier in the evening and aim to get a bit of extra sleep in race week.
Get off your feet
Don’t use the extra time in taper week to do all the odd jobs around the house or spend hours sightseeing or wandering around the expo. Look after your legs and outside of your sessions look to rest as much as you can manage.
The final 24 hours
Consider a light 20 minute jog the day before the race to shake the legs our and settle the nerves. Get your kit ready and check your travel details for race day and then relax. Snack regularly throughout the day and remind yourself of those top positives from your training!