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Thanks to Jess Cover, personal running coach at ON TRACK Performance Coaching for these tips on making the most of your taper.
- The Marathon Taper traditionally starts three weeks before the marathon. It is one of the most important aspects of your marathon training. You want to be fully recovered from your previous workouts and rested for your big event. Some athletes choose a shorter taper of two weeks, stating that they feel too sluggish and de-tuned with the more traditional three week option.
- The taper should include a 30% decrease in mileage each week.
- You should not decrease the frequency of your runs, just the duration until the final week. You want to keep the body loose and used to the act of running.
- The taper is a time to recharge your batteries.
- It is not a time to take on extra projects at work and at home.
- In the final two weeks leading up to the marathon don’t start any strenuous home or yard projects: No painting, mulching, mowing or major spring cleaning. If you must involve yourself in these activities then be mindful of the duration, taking stretch breaks as needed.
- It is normal to feel a bit depressed or feel sluggish during your taper. As race day gets closer you will feel more energized.
- Err on the side of caution in the final week. There is no run this week that will change your overall fitness. If you are feeling overly tired, walk instead of run for the time it would have taken you to complete your run or cut it out completely.
- Get plenty of sleep during your taper. The extra sleep will help your body recover from all of your hard work.
- As you reduce your mileage during the last week, realize that you will not be burning as many calories. This may lead to weight gain if you don’t adjust your portion sizes.
- Don’t change your eating habits drastically during this time period. You should have been practicing your pre-race dinner and breakfast throughout your long runs. Stick with the plan you have laid out.
- Hydrate well the week before the marathon. Always have a bottle of water or diluted sports drink with you, sipping on it throughout the day.
- Practice visualization of your marathon day; getting up, having breakfast, getting to the event, going to the start line, running comfortably and crossing the finish line with a smile on your face!