All about the taper
You may have heard about the taper, something you do before your goal race to get you in the best state before the start. In this post I'm sharing some hints and tips for how to get it just right.
Firstly, what is a taper? Fundamentally it's about dropping back your run distance and intensity in the build up to your target race. The aim is to arrive at the race start line full of energy and at full fitness without still having the effects of heavy training sessions in your legs.
So what does this look like in practice? Let's take a marathon as an example. The taper usually starts 3 weeks out from your race. After your final long run, the longest in your training plan you drop both distance and intensity back by around 30% for the next week. I still advise runners to keep to the same numer of runs a week, as we are creatures of habit and this helps avoid getting too restless. After this 70% week you then have a 50-60% week and a final week where the runs are 30-40% of the total distance of your longest training week. The long run the week before the race is around the 8 mile mark. All of this varies hugely with your fitness, experience running at that distance and lots of other factors. But they are good general guidelines.
The taper is an interesting balance between physical and mental aspects. Runners often feel fidgety in the taper, as running volume reduces whilst pre race nerves are increasing. It's really tempting to over do it, or try to make up for previous gaps in your training at this stage. The risks really outweigh the benefits here, you'll have a better race if you are at the start slightly undertrained but fit, well and full of energy than you will if you crammed more into the taper and are fatigued before you start the race.
There are other things you can do in the taper to get you in top form for the race;
- eating well, lots of fruits, vegetables and variety to get all the vitamins and minerals you need for your body to fully recovery from your training
- getting lots of sleep, again so you are fully recovered and raring to go on race day
- keeping hydrated, to avoid any sniffles and make sure you are performing at your best in the race
Whilst in the taper start planning your race; I wrote a blog post all about that here https://www.ontherunhealthandfitness.co.uk/blog/planning-for-a-great-race
My other top tip would be to look back over your training log whilst you are tapering, see how far you've come and how much training you've put into the race preparation. It's all part of the mental game for a great race!
Enjoyed this blog? Head to my website and sign up to my mailing list to get the latest posts straight to your inbox!