I was chatting to one of our Speedworkers the other day and discussing how difficult it is to taper. Tapering is the period as we draw closer to the event where we reduce the volume of training. In theory after all that running we should be glad to take extra rest, sleep well and eat but in reality tapering can start to play with our minds, making us anxious about losing our fitness and lose our confidence in our ability to run at all!
For a half marathon tapering usually happens in the week or two before the event and for a full marathon two or three weeks before. In this period we cut back on the mileage. There are several reasons why this is good practise:
- You can’t get fitter! Physiological adaptions to training take weeks. This means that extra sessions during the taper period do not have time to make you fitter but can make you tired, or worse, injured for race day.
- Your muscles and other tissues need time to repair. All that running has taken a toll, give your body time to repair so you arrive at the start line in fine fettle.
- Minimise fatigue. All that running can be very tiring. Rest up in the weeks preceding your event to arrive at the start feeling energised and ready to go.
- Replenish body stores. Training depletes carbohydrates stored in the body as well as other antioxidants and hormones. Taking some time out allows these stores to return to peak levels.
In short, as you get nearer to your chosen event cut back on the training – you can’t get fitter and you want to arrive fresh and full of energy. Try to continue eating well – protein to repair damage and complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and fruit and veg. Drink plenty but stay off the booze! Remain confident in the effort and training you have put in and you will be fit and raring to go on race day!