Marathon Taper Tips

A successful decrease in training before a marathon can lead to up to a 5% improvement in your final finish time.

Prepping for a marathon, along with other endurance tests, can be intimidating. The effort put into readying, organizing, and dedicating yourself over a long period is eventually rewarded upon completing your goal.

Travelling to a marathon can often be more challenging than running the event. If performed correctly, you can experience an enhancement in both your physical and psychological state that goes beyond what you imagined before embarking on your workout program.

For many athletes, the toughest element of their plan is the tapering part, which is fascinating because it occurs over the least amount of time and mileage.

Studies have shown that when a marathoner follows a carefully thought out taper, their running ability enhances because of increases in muscle strength and power. This is according to Pete Pfitzinger, who has participated in the Olympics twice, and co-authored the book, “Advanced Marathoning”.

It is certainly true that the skill with which you adjust can have a major impact on achieving, surpassing, or missing your expectations.

The best way to reduce the amount of running done in preparation for a marathon is a very individual thing, based on how quickly you adapt, your racing background, the speed of your buildup during training and your own body’s characteristics.

Marathon Taper

A marathon taper involves reducing mileage in the lead-up to the event, allowing the athlete to rest and recover, as well as enabling their body to process the last stage of training – usually a run of 20-22 miles.

A two to three-week break should be taken before the marathon to finish off the training regimen.

Lessening the intensity of your workouts is critical to success in a marathon regimen, however, implementing this stage of the program can present a challenge for a great many people. Runners are often apprehensive about reducing the amount of exercise they do before a major event, feeling that it may cause them to lose all the strength and conditioning they have worked hard to build up.

It is critical to part down the distance of your runs not just to ensure full healing before a competition, but also to allow yourself to reach the most optimal performance.

Most marathon approaches usually contain a three-week break, which means that there would be less running and more rest during the past 21 days between when the last long run was completed and when the marathon begins.

And for some runners, that sounds counterintuitive. If you avoid tapering, you may face issues during the race and experience a slow recovery afterwards.

Research has demonstrated that using a taper can enhance results from three to five per cent, a figure which can mean a PR or a slot for a Boston Qualifying time for numerous competitors!

During this stage, your instruction is not aimed towards getting physically stronger. It is highly improbable that you will see any great increases in physical fitness before race day.

It is mainly about giving your body time to keep up with itself. This means that you will reduce the amount of running you do to help your muscles become stronger and so that your body’s internal functions (such as glycogen levels, hormones, enzymes, and your immune system) are as optimal as they can be before the race.

When a taper starts, your body is somewhat depleted. You have exerted considerable effort as you come to this point. Remember: the taper is meant to re-energize you.

The Nuts and Bolts of Tapering for a Marathon

A period of tapering should begin the day after your most prolonged run or sometime during the following week. Usually, this run will be somewhere between 20 to 23 miles. When you begin to cut back, aim to get your long runs down to the teens.

An ideal number would be 13 to 14 miles. You can even go lower if you want to.

At this point, going on any length of a run won’t make any physical changes to your body. This is not the appropriate moment to attempt to incorporate some last-minute endurance work—that is sure to leave you feeling exhausted on the day of the event.

The total number of miles you cover during the week will begin to decrease. Aim for a cut in total mileage that is around 20-25%. The reduction in the amount of running you do will also apply to your personal exercise routines.

Ensure that during your decrease in exercise, you do a tempo run each week that’s shorter than what you generally do, preferably at the same speed you want for your marathon. If you have previously been performing tempos for 30 minutes, reduce that to 20 minutes.

If you are intending to train for three weeks, then you can include a tempo run in one week and a track workout in another.

Decrease the number of sets you’re doing from six to 10 down to three to six. Keep the pace the same. Reduce the quantity finished and the duration while you are standing.

Your Marathon Taper Should be Based on Your Own Needs

The method of gradually reducing workouts before a marathon should be tailored to fit the individual. You may choose to gradually decrease your mileage over three weeks instead of two, or reduce your mileage significantly while keeping your intensity level high.

You could also alter your running distance slightly and reduce the level of intensity. To get the optimum outcome, it is advisable to either comply with a marathon training schedule or consult with a trainer.

If you are alone, you can pick something that suits your needs. It might require some experimentation, but once you have worked it out, success will be assured.

How Long Should You Taper Before a Marathon

Most marathon plans tend to follow the three-week taper. It is different for each RUNNER, but in the last 21 days it is essential to decrease the amount of running you do and focus more on taking time to recuperate so that your body is in its best condition on the day of the race.

Tapering Diet

As for nutrition, make protein a priority.

Dr Alan Tichenal of the University of Hawaii, who has completed the Honolulu Marathon 20 times, recommends consuming lots of protein in the current week to help fix and heal the muscles affected by extensive marathon training.

Aim to consume around 75 to 100 grams of protein daily. If you are vegetarian, get your protein from sources such as eggs, legumes, dairy, and soy-based items.

Increase your immune system’s strength and possibly stop a cold or flu by consuming lots of vitamin C. The most nutritious foods are kiwis, orange juice, red bell peppers, broccoli, and strawberries.

The amino acid lysine can also help, too. The best vegetarian sources of nutrients are wheat germ or a 500mg supplement.

Marathon Race Week Strategy

During the week of your marathon, you will need to significantly reduce your running distance. Generally, an acceleration session performed four days ahead should be accompanied by a fast-paced jog of limited duration and length. A good example of marathon race week might look like this:

Sunday: 10-mile run

Monday: Off

On Tuesday, warm up for between 15 and 20 minutes then go into 8 repetitions of 1 minute at a half marathon pace, with 90 seconds of slow jogging in between each one. 10-minute cooldown

On Wednesday, start with a 15-minute warm-up before running a 10-minute tempo at the pace you would like to achieve if you were in a marathon, adding 15 to 20 seconds. If you want to complete your race in 8 minutes, you should aim to run at a tempo ranging from 8 minutes and 15 seconds to 8 minutes and 20 seconds. Cool down for 10 minutes

Thursday: Off

Friday: 4-mile run (can be switched with Thursday)

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Race

Some coaches don’t like taking back-to-back days off. Some people enjoy going for a jog the day before the marathon.

It is frequently made a misstep to be anxious about losing one’s acquired aptitude and wellness levels attained through preparing up until now. The “it” alludes to the edge that has been achieved. How to avoid that from happening?

One word: Relax. Or two words: Chill out. If you start to notice laziness and disorientation a few days before your marathon, it shows that you are appropriately cutting back on your training. Be prepared to feel an increase in vigour or vitality in the time leading up to the race. Just be patient.

Just remember that the taper is your friend. Don’t make it your enemy. Use it wisely. Embrace it. My final suggestion is not to fuss around with details while you have the chance. View this period of relaxation and revitalization as a reward that will assist you in having a remarkable marathon day.

How to Taper Before a Marathon

This plan outlines how to alter your training and diet over the three vital weeks before the race starts. So relax! We’ve got you covered.

Week 1

The tapering period for the upcoming marathon kicks off after your last long run of around twenty miles, which would occur three weeks before the race. The increase in training intensity begins calmly since this practice still has significance, so there is no need for a quick decrease in the amount of work.

Before you start your taper, the previous week should consist of the most mileage. This week, follow the same running plan as before but cut the distance you run from last week by at least 20%.

It is advised that you steer clear of running on very rugged terrain, doing hill workouts combined with multiple repetitions, or running at an abnormally fast pace – these are all activities that can create more muscle damage than necessary during your taper period.

The runs that you usually do during the week won’t differ from those from the past week, yet try reducing the distance by a mile or two for your more extended runs during the week.

Typically, during weekdays it is suggested that one run at a medium length of 8-10 miles, one run at a marathon like the speed of 4-6 miles, one day of rest, and two runs of 3-5 miles.

During the first week of your tapering, which is two weeks before the marathon, your long run for the weekend should be between 12 and 14 miles and should be completed at the same speed as your 20-mile run from the week before.

For all your runs this week, other than your marathon-pace practice, make sure that you maintain a comfortable speed where you’re running one and a half to two minutes slower per mile than your desired marathon goal pace.

Week 2

Week two is a transitional period. You are right in the middle of having gone through the gruelling 20-mile course and the jubilant feeling you will bask in after completing a marathon. Giving yourself enough rest is the most essential element when preparing for a race, and planning out how you want to compete becomes increasingly crucial.

You should run approximately half to two-thirds as much this week as you did during your most extensive week of running.

The majority of your running should be at a slow speed, which is around one to two minutes slower than the pace you would want to run a marathon at. There should be one two-mile period where you run at the same speed as you would during a marathon, which should be in the centre of your four-mile run in the middle of the week.

Finke argues that running at your chosen goal pace, even if it is only a small amount, is beneficial both physically and mentally, as it acclimatises your body to the pace you wish to reach on the day of the race. It is important to stay as close as possible to the type of activity you wish to perform in a competition. Additionally, a few 100-meter strides may be beneficial to maintain agility and relaxation.

On weekdays, your runs should not go longer than four miles, and the longest distance should be between six to 10 miles. On the week before your marathon, your longest run should be between 8 to 10 miles.

If you take too long for your warm-up, it is possible that your muscles won’t be completely ready for the race. In addition, if you have been incorporating weightlifting into your workouts, you should cease doing so this week.

Even though the amount of miles you’re travelling is decreasing, you should still make sure you are getting the necessary caloric intake. Your body is still in the process of healing tissue that was hurt while you were increasing your distance. “This is no time to diet.”

Even though you’re not exercising as much, try to avoid the urge to drastically reduce your fat intake. It is advantageous to consume a regular amount of fat (30% of your daily caloric intake) as it acts as a backup energy source when carbohydrates are not available.

Endurance athletes can avoid a dismal performance on race day by consuming foods with lots of unsaturated fats, like peanuts or fish cooked in canola oil. This way, their body will have adequate fat reserves to prevent the debilitating effects of the “wall”. Avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat and trans fats, like pizza and ice cream.

The Benefits of Tapering Before a Marathon

Patti Finke, the co-director of the Portland (Oregon) Marathon Clinic, claims that most runners persistently train until the day of the marathon out of fear that they might lose their physical capability if they take a break. It may not be obvious to them, but it is in the rest periods during the last few weeks that you gain the strength to continue. You won’t see a decrease in your physical fitness if you take a break of three weeks to rest. Research findings point to the fact that your ability to use oxygen during exercise, the most reliable measure of physical fitness, remains the same.

Research supports the tapering aspect of these training plans.

A review from 2003 of 50 studies on the process of tapering, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, showed that when tapering occurs, levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones that are depleted from high mileage can return to normal ranges.

Tapering can help mend the damage that occurs to muscles from prolonged training.

Along with the above, your immunity and muscle power also increase, leading to a lesser chance that you’ll get sick or hurt yourself in advance of the contest.

It has been found that the participants in these experiments who lessened their training saw a 3% increase in overall performance. That is equivalent to about five to ten minutes for someone running a marathon.

The review’s main conclusion is? The main goal of tapering should be to reduce any built-up tiredness, not to gain more physical changes or fitness enhancements. Put simply, it’s time to relax.


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