Marathon Mastery Series: The Taper

Are you having the terror tapers? Join the other millions of women who are more than likely feeling exactly the same. Here’s how to handle the marathon taper and figure out what is worth being disciplined about and what you should put down to complete maranoia…

How to get to the end of the rainbow of your taper period

I feel so lardy and out of shape. I’m losing all my fitness. Argh.

As long as you haven’t just stopped running completely as part of your taper, you will NOT be getting out of shape. While volume should be decreased (and how much you should decrease mileage varies according to what level of runner you are) , you should be keeping up your fast, speed and tempo work if that is the intensity that you are used to.

If you run at a certain pace for your threshold or sessions, continue to do so. Your legs are used to running now and this turnover helps to keep your muscles tuned and primed for the marathon. Don’t be come one of those runners who suddenly feels like they need to sit on the sofa and NOT move.

However, you can be doing ALL of those things and still be feeling like you’ve just eaten the Christmas dinner. This can simply be a result of a drop in mileage for your long runs but that you’re still eating the same as if you’d run that long. It’s normal, don’t sweat it.

Oh my god, running at even my slowest pace feels hard. How am I going to run marathon pace for 26.2 miles?

We’ve ALL felt this one. When you’re one to three weeks out from your marathon goal, which you’ve been training towards for up to 20 weeks, you can still wonder how you’re EVER going to run at the pace you’ve been training for; it can seem impossible, particularly when even your easy runs now feel hard.

Why do they feel hard? I’m of the view that mentally, you spend so long looking forward to the taper, expecting to suddenly feel full of life as if you could race Jessica Ennis that when it doesn’t, it seems extra hard.

However, on race day, if you’ve done your training and completed tempo sessions and long runs with some of it at  marathon pace, the magic just happens. It feels like magic because even 15 minutes after you cross the finish line having achieved your goal, you find yourself wondering how you ever managed to run at the pace you’ve just achieved.

I missed one long training run. Surely it would be better to just do one last long run?

No, it really wouldn’t. Your legs need the chance to recover…hell, mentally you need time to recharge and be prepared for the battle ahead (and marathons are amazing, but be clear, you do need to face a mental battle). Running for the sake of getting that one last run in, is far more likely to leave you exhausted, or worse injured, come marathon day. Stick to the taper plan.

 So, tapering means I can start going out and forget about running for a bit. Hurrah!  

On the flip side, tapering does NOT mean simply sitting on the sofa and scoffing pasta and cake three weeks before the marathon or that you simply can’t run at all. Keeping up the frequency of your runs, even if they are shorter will help prevent you feeling sluggish and getting antsy, particularly when you are so used to the mood boosting hormones that come with running.

 

 

 

 


Leave a Reply