You have put in all those weeks of training by logging several hundred miles of running and now you are ready for the taper! While the taper is all about recovering from the cumulative fatigue of marathon training, it doesn’t mean you are taking the next three weeks off. For most first-time marathoners, the reduction in mileage represents the opportunity to allow your body to “lick its wounds;” the lingering aches and pains, as well as the overall heaviness felt in one’s legs should dissipate as you progress through the next several weeks provided you don’t introduce other fatigue-inducing activities into your daily routine.
While most of us welcome a taper, there are some who have a difficult time, psychologically speaking, dealing with a cutback in training; our bodies are used to the routine and rigor of marathon training and the reduction in the running workload leaves a void which our minds have a hard time coping with. It is almost like withdrawal. The biggest mistake one could make is to continue training at a high level and cut back too close to the marathon. Any hard workout inside of two weeks before the marathon is not going to have any important effect on your conditioning. It is probably better to go into your race slightly deconditioned than to get up to the starting line slightly over-trained. So, respect the taper, get proper rest through the next several weeks, maintain a proper diet and keep hydrated!