Ahhhh, the long awaited TAPER!!! This is music to any athlete’s ears as it usually signifies a decrease in workload. However, sometimes taper can go wrong as athletes mistake this phase of training to be insignificant or get too relaxed as they take it to mean no more work needs to be done!
Taper is actually one of the most important point in a training cycle and what you do during those few weeks can really help or hinder your race day results! So here are a few tips to help you get through successfully:
1- You still have to follow the plan
This might seem obvious, but these taper miles are just as important as the peak week training. Yes, there will be fewer of them, but it is important that you keep your legs moving to promote circulation, which enhances the recovery process. You CAN over-taper, so make sure you are still running and keeping up the the plan!
2- Find your true marathon pace
We aren’t building much fitness at this point. The key here during the taper is to train your body exactly what marathon pace feels like so you don’t have to be a slave to your watch on race day. The MP serves an important purpose. Proper pacing leads to best results on race day. If you go too fast on your MP workouts, you are likely to make that same mistake on race day. So be in control!
3- Expect to feel terrible at some point
The first week or two of taper, you might feel terrible!!! Why? Because after MONTHS of hard work, you are finally letting your body rest and recover and that takes a TON of energy! Your body is releasing all sorts of chemicals and hormones to promote recovery. This may leave you feeling extra tired or feel like your legs are heavy. Don’t worry. Totally normal. It will start to feel better as race day approaches.
4- Don’t leave your race in a practice run
Once you start getting your legs back, you are going to feel amazing. Runs will feel effortless. At this point, you will probably be doing more marathon specific work or goal pace work. Resist the urge to try and PR during these runs — there is NO MORE fitness to be gained at this point. SAVE IT for race day!!! Don’t leave your race in practice!!!
5- Food fuels your body
Watch what you EAT and start fueling for race day early!! It’s common sense, but you need to really dial into your nutrition – start adding those complex carbs so that your muscles can start effectively storing it as glycogen! Some great examples include sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grains, and etc! You cannot effectively carbo load for a marathon in 1-2 days! You’ve gotta give your body some time! If done right, carbo loading can enhance your endurance by 20% on race day! –