Tapering.. it's a word I'm sure most people have heard of, but what does it actually mean? We are now just 4 weeks out from the first of the major Spring marathons, so naturally I'm getting a lot of questions about the process, so here's my take on it and how to go about optimising your time between now and the big day!
Quite simply, the aim of the taper is to reduce the accumulated fatigue in your body, while maintaining the fitness you've built up over your training cycle. It allows you to arrive on the start line with fresh legs, feeling strong and ready to give it your all!
3 WEEKS TO GO
This should be a pretty standard training week, but with a slight reduction in your mileage while keeping the intensity the same. So if you’ve been doing some interval sessions or hill workouts keep those in, however look to drop your overall mileage by about 10% from your biggest week.
So if you ran 50 miles in your biggest week, then drop down to 45 for this week.
For a lot of people your longest run (20-23 miles or 32-37km) will have been the week before.. with exactly 3 weeks to go to the day. So this weeks long run will be around 15-18 miles or 24-29km. It will be good to do most of this run at an 'easy' pace, while adding in some 3-5km blocks of goal marathon pace during it.
2 WEEKS TO GO
Reduce your mileage by 25 - 30% from your biggest week. So again if you were doing 50 miles, then this week should be around 37 miles.
Very good idea to add strides at the end of a couple of your easy runs (good practice for all training weeks really.. but even more so here).
Include 1 interval session, here are some examples of what you can do.. remember to add a warm up and cool down as well.
Run on the same days as you'd normally run, your body likes routine.
Last long run, keep it to 90 - 120 minutes. (This is the Sunday before race day)
A good time to get a sports massage booked in if your budget allows, to freshen up your legs.