Training from the mile to the marathon.
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  • Marathon Taper

    Posted on October 5th, 2011 CoachGreg 1 comment
    Put head on the pillow, even it takes you a bit of time to fall asleep.

    Put your head on the pillow, even it takes you a bit of time to fall asleep.

    The taper for a marathon usually is in the range of 14-21 days with the longest training run being done three weeks before the race. For most marathoners, especially first timers, the last 16-20 weeks have been particularly rigorous to say the least. Your body is probably pretty beat up, even if you’re feeling ok. The body needs an opportunity to heal as much as possible before your race.

    During the taper, mileage is reduced but intensity is maintained. You don’t want to start slogging through your runs. Instead, you want to get some zip back into your legs and run well.

    One place I do reduce the intensity is at the track. We move from sharpening speed to working on race pace. It’s important to start your race well and at the proper pace. Your body will course with adrenaline at the start and you don’t want to jack rabbit as you cross the start line. By practicing race pace on the track, you’ll get a great feel for what your pace should feel like and you have a chance to get that into your muscle memory. Hopefully, you’ve also thrown some race pace miles into your long runs as well.

    You will end up with a ton of energy during the final two weeks, especially the week before your race. The first week of the taper, you’ll be glad you’re not running as far and you’ll start to feel renewed. Do not remodel your kitchen, organize your attic, or pull out that row of azaleas you’ve been meaning to get to. The wife of one of my runners claims to hate the taper as her husband begins to bounce off the walls.

    The week before the race, I try to have my head hit the pillow 30 minutes earlier each successive night. So if you’re normally in bed by 11, on Sunday night, go to bed at 10.30. Your best night of rest should be two night before your race - Friday night for a Sunday race. You’ll get crappy rest the night before the race so the night before that is vitally important.

    If you’re an experienced marathoner, what’s the most important part of the taper for you? If this is your first marathon, what’s the one question that you have that remains unanswered?

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