As we near the big weekend of races happening in the Twin Cities we want to talk about how to approach tapering. Just like fitness in general, tapering is completely individualized and takes a bit of tinkering. Here is some food for thought as we start to change the dial on our training in order to feel our freshest to race!
Tapering for a marathon looks different than tapering for a 5k.
In marathon training it is typical to see a decrease in mileage about 2 to 4 weeks leading up to the race. This is most commonly noticed in the reduction of distance in the weekly long run. Many people peak somewhere around 20 miles. After that, it is important to slowly pull back from that distance. Mileage and intensity is specific to each individual, but for the most part, mileage and intensity will also start to slowly decrease 2 to 4 weeks out from a marathon so that your body can appropriately recover and be ready for your race. If you are peaking for a shorter race then there are elements of training that we want to keep high. For shorter events, the mileage doesn’t matter as much as the quickening and sharpening of one’s form and turnover. These elements will become much more important for shorter races.
Put all your focus on emphasizing recovery mode.
The workouts are physiologically in your system. This is the time that we need to be hyper aware of everything else. This means sleep, hydration, fuel, and mobility. Even though these are things that we try to stay on top of all the time, it becomes much more crucial to dial in on these elements when we taper. Go to bed early and sleep in every once in a while. Start the hydration process weeks before the race actually happens. Eat whole foods that you know work for you and start to eliminate things like excessive alcohol and caffeine. Set a mobility goal. Maybe its 10 minutes a day. Whatever it is, hit your goal the last two weeks of your training.
Adopt the theory of less is more.
This is something my college coach would always tell me leading up to the biggest races of the year, and it’s true. Really tune into your body and reflect on the weeks of training that you just completed. When did you feel your best? What did your rest days look like? In the last two weeks of your training think about doing less if you need because it will benefit you much more. Training hard the two weeks before your event will not help your body get in better shaper. Your body takes much longer than a couple weeks to adapt to physiological changes in training.
Good luck in your taper!
All Hail the TreadMighty,