Top Tapering Tips
Follow these top tips for training, 4 weeks out from race day;
* Reach your peak. 3-4 weeks out will see you hit your final key long run. We always recommend looking to add some of you planned marathon pace into that run and don’t get too stressed about miles, work to time.
Try this: 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes with the final 60 minutes at your planned race day pace and intensity would be a great final key run. If you have a half marathon race in these final 4 weeks we’d strongly recommend running this art your goal marathon pace with easy running before and after.
* Long hard road; Many runners get very caught up with chasing miles in their training and end getting to the race tired from doing a final long run too far or too closer to race day.
Try this: Beyond 3.5 hours it’s a case of diminishing returns for runners. Please don’t head out and do a monster 4-5 hour run just to get in 20-22 miles in these final 3-4 weeks. You will leave your best marathon in a training run. 4 weeks out is ideal for most as their longest run, but 3.5 hours maximum and for many this could be closer to three hours. If this means you dint hit 20-22 miles – don’t panic!
* Cut it back: Training takes 2 weeks to bed in so doing too much hard training too close to race day will likely leave you tired but with no additional fitness gains, the taper is all about cutting back your training to feel fresh for the big day.
Try this: 3 weeks out from race day consider cutting your long run back to a maximum of 2.5 hours, 2 weeks out down to 2 hours with the final 30 minutes at race pace and a week out from race day a nice easy 75 minute relaxed run.
* Feel the frequency; Your body likes routine and patterns of training, don’t cut your training back so much in the final 3 weeks that your feel rusty. Keep feeling like a runner!
Try this: Keep the frequency of your training the same. If you normally run 3, 4 or 5 times a week, still run 3, 4 or 5 times a week in the final 3-4 weeks. In the final 2 weeks though we can cut back the volume of each run by about 30 % 2 weeks out and down to a few easy 30 minute runs in race week.
* Get cross; Niggles and sickness can still strike during your taper and the desire to run through this can see many runners undo all their hard work.
Try this: If you are sick or carrying a niggle take extra rest or consider cross training – aqua jogging, elliptical and static bike are all great options for replicating our running plan with less impact.
* A matter of routine; Race day should be easy – you should have practiced your kit and race plan mentally and physically in training and know exactly what to do.
Try this: Make sure you use your final long runs to practice your pre race meal and breakfast, your gel and hydration strategy and ensure you have worn your race kit several times.
* All in the mind. The gremlin will find you at some point in these final 3-4 weeks. ‘Have you done enough training?’, ‘should you squeeze in one more 3 hour run?’, ‘do I need to make up for that week I missed when I had a cold?’. These are common worries in the final weeks but eventually less becomes more. It’s time to let the body start to recover and build its strength for race day.
Try this: Look back over your training diary and write down 8-10 positive statements about what you have achieved so far. It could be a great long run, a race PB, building consistent stretching and conditioning patterns. Reinforce the positives from you HAVE done, not what you haven’t.
* Book an MOT; If you were entering a car or bike race you’d definitely want to make sure everything was running smoothly and had a bit of love and attention before you hit the start line. Your body is no different.
Try this: Book in for an MOT with a good local sports physio or consider getting a sports massage in the final two weeks. No closer than the Wednesday or race week though as sometimes these can leave you feeling a little sore!
* Sharpen the knife; All the long miles in training can sometimes leave you legs feeling a bit slow and rusty. Getting some faster inning in during the taper can be a great option to get a bit of ‘zip’ back into the legs.
Try this: 8 or 15 days out for the marathon look to run your local parkrun (www.parkrun.org). a 5km blast wearing your marathon kit will make marathon effort seem that bit easier but will also remind you of some of your race day logistics.
* Getting all practical; Major marathons always involve some tricky logistics. Leave nothing to chance and make sure you get your planning done early – when are you going to the expo? Which train will you catch on race morning? Have you booked a meal for Saturday night?
Try this: If you possibly can try to get to the expo earlier in the week when it is less busy. If you can’t make sure you keep time spent wandering there to a minimum. The Friday and Saturday before the race is the time to spend as little time on your feet as possible.
* Clear the diary; The taper is all about doing less not more. Just because you have more time because or not training doesn’t mean its tie for more gym class or doing bug DiY jobs at home.
Try this: Be a bit selfish this week and ask for help with some of the jobs around the house. If you possibly can a day extra off work on the Friday before he race and use to do….nothing!
* Sleep yourself fit: Sleep is when your body releases all the growth hormone you need to adapt to all those hard miles. If you can possibly look to get an extra 15-30 minutes a night in these final 2-3 weeks it could make MASSIVE difference to your final performance.
Try this: Practice good ‘sleep hygiene’. Banish smart phones and tablets from the bedroom, find a good routine and pattern where you aim to hit the sack at the same time most or all nights and avoid stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol late at night. Aim to eat your main meal a little earlier and ideally 2 hours or more before you sleep.