Tapering! It’s a word we hear people say in preparation for a race, but what does it actually mean? Why should you do it?Below is an article I wrote as part of the Marathon g guide on http://www.profeet.co.uk/marathon-training-guide to give you an insight on how to taper…
What is Tapering?
During training your body’s metabolic systems will have been stretched. Tapering allows muscle energy stores to return to their peak levels (glycogen). Being strict in your tapering allows muscles to rejuvenate, recover and to return to their optimal ranges. Tapering allows your body to prepare for peak performance!
3 weeks from race day
By this time, you should have completed the longest run of your training programme. It’s time to recover. Make sure you’ve taken off at least 2 days off after. Don’t worry if it was hard – it is supposed to be! Also, if new niggles have arisen, don’t panic. You have been pushing your mind and body in training for the last 14 – 18 weeks, little aches are natural. 3 weeks pre-event your mileage should be maintained but nothing excessive. Runs that do take place which are shorter should have an element of marathon pace to them, (nothing more than 9/10 miles at marathon pace). At this point you should also have tested out your race kit in a long run, including your shoes. If you feel totally unsure whether your shoes will last the race this is the very last time to change them for race day. That being said, at all costs don’t change the model. Buy the exact shoe you had previously to avoid any breaking-in difficulties, and honestly to be on the safe side! See the Profeet fitting process video to help you select the perfect shoe for race day.
From a nutritional point of view, change nothing. Keep it consistent. It is not the time to cut calories that’s for sure. After the long runs ensure you are refuelling with high carbs and proteins to help with muscle repair. Also keep your water intake at about 2-3 litres per day to stay hydrated.
2 weeks from race day
Run length should reduce and be at a fairly easy pace – these last weeks are not a time to go breaking PBs! One or two shorter runs should also be carried out at race pace, nothing far, just 5-6 miles to keep the legs ticking over. In all other areas of your training you should be putting in time stretching and having some final massages. Any weights sessions for lower body should be eased off at this point too. Nutritionally, at the end of this week you should now begin carbohydrate loading. Carb loading is a principle by which you increase your glycogen stores in the body, so that on race day you have more energy reserves. These carbohydrates should mainly be complex such as rice, whole grains and pasta as well as, fruits/vegetables and proteins. Proteins are mainly consumed to help with muscle recovery.
1 week from race day
With a week to go, focus on getting as much sleep as possible to be fully recovered. Mobility should be a key focus. Nutritionally, don’t cut calories. Even though you are not exercising as much, your body still needs to store the energy. Lastly, remember you have put in all the hard work for race day. Just go out and enjoy it. Don’t forget, running a marathon is an incredible achievement so no matter whether you cross that line running, walking or even crawling, you made it!