Trust in the Taper

It’s that time of year where lots of us will be deep into our marathon training.

It's only a few weeks until The London Marathon and I'm happy to say my training has gone well. I’m very tired at the moment but a good taper should help me absorb all the past 3 months training and leave me fresh and ready for the challenge on race day.

The taper can be the hardest part of the training cycle! We know it takes big efforts to train for a marathon with long runs and marathon pace runs, and following a plan can be reassuring, but when all the hard work is done the ease off during the 3-week taper can play tricks on your mind. The self doubt sneaks in. Have I done enough? Should I have done more long runs? Have I run enough weekly miles? Is my marathon pace too optimistic? Will I hit the wall?

It’s important to know that every runner from elite to first timer will have similar thoughts.
The truth is, if you've done all the training leading up to this point your good to go! If you haven't trained then you may want to start worrying!

The 3 weeks leading up to your marathon will be the time to ease off and save energy. You won't develop much fitness in this time and slogging away with too much running during the taper will only hinder your race performance. Too little will leave you sluggish. It’s a balancing act.
I personally think it's better to do slightly less than to run too much during the taper. You don't want to start the marathon on tired legs. Some people like a small few miles the day before, but I prefer total rest.

Another big part of the taper for me is the carb load. I'll be writing a blog all about this soon with some tips on what I've found works for me. I’ve definitely learnt what works and what doesn't work that's for sure!

I also like to get a few short sharp faster sessions in during my taper. Maybe 1 session during week 1 of the taper and another the 2nd week of the taper. Nothing too taxing, but a sharpener to give me a bit of confidence. Maybe a few half mile reps at race pace, or a few strides added to a shorter relaxed run. Whatever works for you! The rest of your runs should be done at an easy pace. Reduce mileage accordingly to your plan, or run about 75-80% of your highest weekly mileage the 1st week of the taper, around 60% the 2nd week and maybe a few small jogs the week leading up to the race. I like to run 2 or 3 marathon pace miles mid-week before the race to tune into goal pace. Always wear your exact race kit from underwear to socks, shoes, gel pack... the lot. Make sure everything is comfortable. You don't want any niggling surprises come race day!

Get your rest! Early nights are your friend! Sleep as much as possible. Rest the body well and eat good food. You should maintain your running during the taper but reduce the mileage and have a few extra rest days. Listen to your body! If you need extra rest take it! You won't lose fitness during the taper, but you could do too much and ruin your chance of a PB. Get to the start line fresh and ready like a coiled spring ready to pop! But also remember... Don't go off too fast - control your excitement!

If you've done the training there's no need to worry. Enjoy the taper experience and the extra rest, you've earned it at this stage! Don't let your mind play tricks on you during the taper - think positive and look forward to the main event!

I am powerful... I am a runner!