Why and How to taper for your Marathon race.
Tapering is the gradual decrease in training intensity and duration with should start after your last long run. For most people this is three weeks prior to race day. Full taper kicks in with one week to go. The purpose of tapering is to allow your body to recovery from hard training. The muscle fibres need time to fully repair the micro trauma which training causes. This takes time, but with rest, stretching, gentle running, sleep, good food and hydration you’ll arrive on the start time with energy loaded muscles, feeling fresh, ready and raring to go!
Top Taper Tips:
- Rest – you’ll probably feel like you ‘should’ be running, but training effects take around three weeks to appear in your body so it’s too late for tough, long, hilly runs! Just stick to short sessions which keep your legs ticking over.
- Bank Sleep – you’re a lucky one if you can get quality sleep the night before race day, so try getting to bed a little earlier every night in the week before.
- Hydrate – Keep yourself topped up with water. It’s essential for improving muscle condition and especially important in the final 48hours, as it will help prevent you dehydrating during the race.
- Carb Load – try to keep eating well during your taper period. The last 24 hours is the time to add small amounts of extra carbohydrates to each meal and snack in order to insure you have maximum stored energy in your muscles.
- Stay calm – Employ stress reduction techniques such as gentle walking, swimming, meditation, yoga (if you are used to it!), visualization and hot baths to help keep body and mind calm.
- Have a Massage – I would say that wouldn’t I?! – But having run two marathons I can honestly say my pre race massage calmed my mind, relaxed my tight muscles and left me feeling positive and focused.
- Don’t get injured! – leave trying that extreme sport you’ve always wanted to have a go at until after the race! Just take care and be sensible about the activities you get involved in.
- Keep Positive – rid your mind of those negative thoughts, focus on the positive ones and surround yourself with like-minded people.
- Final 24hours – Change nothing! Eat the same as you’ve eaten before long runs in training. Keep to your normal pre long run routine. Even put your trainers on in the normal order if that makes you feel good!
- Race Day – Focus on YOU and what you need to eat, wear, drink and do to get to the start line ready to RUN!
And remember to enjoy the incredible experience that is running 26.2miles!