Ok, so you have signed up for a marathon, know how long it’ll (probably) take to finish the marathon, come up with a training plan for the marathon – but now race day is approaching and you need to start tapering your training.
Tapering is where people reduce the amount of running and exercise in the 2 or 3 weeks right before a big race (i.e. before a marathon).
So you might have had 20 weeks (or more) of solid training, then in the final 2 or 3 weeks you’ll massively reduce the amount.
Of course, this is so your muscles are completely relaxed and recuperated for the big 26 mile race!
Tapering is an important aspect of marathon training – but many athletes hate doing it as it means just sitting back and resting (and all we want to do is get back out and run!). The first couple of days of rest might be nice, but you have to avoid the urge to go back out for a long run during this whole period!
How to taper (3 week plan)
3 weeks to go until the big race
It is normally recommended that you reduce your weekly running mileage (km) by around 20-25% at this stage.
The runs at this period should be at an easy pace, and you should be having around 2 rest days during this period.
So if you were running 10km for your normal midweek runs, then you should aim for around 7-8km. If your longer runs were 30km then you should be running approx 22.5km. Obviously you should adjust this to your training schedule and what works for you.
2 weeks to go until the marathon
Again, you will want to reduce the number of miles (km) by another 20-25%.
Keep the pace easy, and don’t over work anything this week! And make sure to still keep a couple of days completely for rest!
1 week to go until marathon
Now that the marathon is rapidly approaching, you need to start really resting! Only go out running around 4 times, and keep the runs really short (around 5km/3-4 miles)
Be sure to get your 8 hours minimum of sleep every night too.
Good luck in the big race!