As we lead into Fall marathon season, most runners have a full understanding of the hard training it takes to complete the 26.2 mile distance. After months of building up long runs, adding in hill repeats and speed work, the actual training becomes almost second natures. Still, many runners, even seasoned athletes, remain unsure of how to best take advantage of the taper period. Suddenly, running fewer miles leaves us wondering, “Am I doing this right?” or “Will I lose fitness before my race?”
Project Purple’s Coach Jane comes to our rescue with her Top Ten Taper Tips!
Coach Jane’s Marathon Taper Tips
- 1. Reduce mileage by 20% three weeks before the race, 30% two weeks before the race and 50% the week leading into the race.
- 2. Do not lift heavy weights, run hills or do high intensity speed sessions for two weeks before the race.
- 3. Decide on your race outfit and test it out for comfort and chafing in your last long run. If you need to replace your shoes, break in your new shoes in the 2-3 weeks leading into the race.
- 4. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids (water or a sports drink) until your pee is clear every day.
- 5. Get plenty of sleep. If you can’t get 8 hours per night, try to take naps! If you get enough sleep the week before the race, the (lack) of sleep you get the night before won’t matter.
- 6. Go over your race plan in detail. Write out your ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ race goals so you are prepared for whatever happens on race day.
- 7. Plan out the logistics of race morning so that your wake up time, breakfast, and transport to the start line is seamless and stress-free.
- 8. Eat nutritiously and do not cut calories. Now is NOT the time to diet thinking you might gain weight over the taper period. Your focus should be on maintaining a well-fueled engine that can get you to the finish line!
- 9. In the last week, less is more. No training you do will help your performance on race day, but doing too much can certainly have a negative impact.
- 10. Get excited and STAY POSITIVE! You’ve trained hard for this. The work is done. Race day is a celebration of all the hard work you’ve put in!
So, there you have it! Enjoy the final weeks and days leading up to your race. Rest, eat healthy foods, and enjoy some time doing relaxing things you did not have time for during your peak training. Read a book or go out for coffee with friends. Visualize your race success. Thank your donors, your family and your friends for supporting you along the way. Most importantly, enjoy the knowledge that you put in the hard work. Race day will be fun. It will sometimes be difficult, but it will be an experience you will never, ever forget!
If you are interested in running a marathon, read more on Coach Jane’s training tips here: