You’ve made the commitment to run the race and all of a sudden the event is just around the corner and you’re wondering how the next few weeks of training will go. Rest assured, we are here to help with all the advice you need!
Firstly, it’s important to be aware that tapering is different for everyone and there is no set method that everyone should follow. Now we bet you’re wondering “how does that help me?” Well, it’s almost a given that leading up to race day, you will be doing less running to allow yourself to have that fresh, energetic run you on race day, so the amount you’ll taper will depend on how often you usually run in an average week.
What is tapering?
Tapering for a half marathon occurs in the weeks leading up to the race and a bit more for the full 26.2-mile distance. Tapering is when you start to reduce the miles and allow your body to have some rest. It is important you allow this rest but try not to lose the training fitness you’ve gained during the weeks leading up to now. You need to find the right balance where your runs get shorter and easier but not too easy or too short! It is important you take tapering seriously as studies have shown it can improve your performance, and we all want that!!
How long should your taper be?
There is a lot to consider when planning how long to taper leading up to race day. Different race distances usually require different tapering lengths, so for a half marathon 1 – 2 weeks before the event and 3-4 weeks for a marathon is usually enough time to give you the rest you need before the big day! You want to make sure all your best running is put into the race day and not training leading up to the event.
During your tapering period, you want to be reducing the intensity by about 50-60% during race week. Gradually reduce your training, incorporating shorter runs during race week as this will help avoid injury leading up to the event. Also, you do not want to change too much with your diet as you need to increase the glycogen (carbohydrate) stores ready to fuel you on race day. Try to keep your meal plans similar to what they were during training and keep them healthy!
Run at your race pace over shorter distances
It’s important to maintain your race pace when you’re tapering. Even when you’re running shorter distances, run at your comfortable race-day pace to allow you to tune into what it will feel like. You don’t want to be backtracking on the pace you have maintained throughout your training, so your legs are ready for that 13.1 or 26.2 miles!
Don’t overdo it!!
The number one thing you DO NOT want to be doing during race week is overdoing it. Do not try to cram weeks of training into one just to get those extra miles in. It won’t be worth it, and you’ll risk injury occurring and you won’t end up running the event at all. Your body won’t adapt in time now, and whatever training you have done will push you through that race.
It takes time to figure out what tapering style suits you and this may take a couple of races to perfect and help you find the best way to prepare for the week leading up to the event. Don’t overdo it, enjoy the race and good luck!!