I often get asked for how long people should taper and is tapering important?

There are a number of things that people say when you talk about tapering

  1. I’m going lose fitness
  2. I’m going to be putting on weight which will affect my running.
  3. Why bother?

Tapering is a key part of your preparation and is just as important as the rest of the training.

So am I going to lose fitness? No – research shows that reducing your training volume to a third of your highest level still allows you to maintain your cardiovascular fitness for around eight weeks, so don’t worry about a mere three weeks causing a decline in your potential (Realbuzz.com).

Am I going to put on weight? It is unlikely you will put on a significant amount of weight in 2 -3 weeks during a taper and you’re going to need the energy.

Why bother? Now, I am going to turn that statement on its head and state what the benefits are?

Runners World UK states “That running less in the weeks prior to a race is scientifically proven to lead to better performances. Known as tapering, this period of decreased training allows your mind and body time to recover from months of hard training so they are in prime condition come race-day. ”

The purpose of the taper is to get you ready for the marathon by aiding you recover, build your energy levels and to help you fuel for the race.

So lets look at your training:-

In 3rd week prior to the marathon it is your last week of hard training and you should complete your last long run at the end of the week.

In the 2nd week then you should halve your intensity and you shouldn’t exceed 10 miles.

and in the last week do a couple of short runs but don’t do anything which will either put strain on your body or will stress you out.

Food – I’m not a dietitian or a nutritionist but eat a balanced diet and if you’ve been following a specific diet carry that on but ensure balance but do increase the amount of carbs as you’ll need that energy. Whatever you do don’t try to reduce your calorie intake – Remember that you’re running 26 miles in a short amount of time and you’ll need whatever fuel you put in your body.

Should I get a treatment? Sometimes a treatment during taper can really help in dealing with any minor niggles and help dealing with tight muscles and helping with relaxation. A Sports Therapist can help with the psychological preparation and advise in the preparation for the marathon but can provide a listening post to the concerns that you may have. Talk to us and arrange an appointment and have a chat.