Taper time! Our top tips to maximize your pre-race preparation
You’ve done the work (hopefully!), the race is near, so it’s taper time! Some runners look forward to it, some dread it, so here are our top tips to make the most of your taper!
So what’s the point of a taper? You’ve done increasingly harder work, and your last few weeks of training will often have you tired and feeling sore. The taper is designed to let your body refresh, repair & recharge whilst maintaining the fitness you have built in the preceding months. Some runners feel like their fitness is “wasting away” during taper weeks, but a 2003 systematic review on tapering showed those who tapered improved their race performance by 3%. Usually, for the marathon, this will be 3 weeks and for a half-marathon taper will usually be around 2 weeks.
So here are our top tips to get the most out of your taper period:
Training: gradually reduce both the volume (mileage) & the amount of high intensity running over the 2-3 weeks. A good guide here is a 20-30% reduction each week. Try & maintain the frequency of your runs. Don’t completely eliminate speed work, some marathon/half-marathon pace work is ideal during this time.
If your prep has been suboptimal, DONT attempt to make up for it during taper time with extra workouts. They won’t help you, and in fact, can do the opposite and fatigue you for the race.
Strength training: ensure you also reduce your resistance training volume during taper. Decrease weights but you can increase the speed of the exercises to make them more explosive.
Recover! Get good sleep. Don’t worry if you feel particularly sleepy during taper, if sleep is insufficient then take a nap
Don’t restrict calories! Just because you’re training less during this time don’t cut your food down. Continue eating normally. Eat adequate amounts of protein to help with tissue repair, and plenty of fresh fruit & veg to keep your immune system healthy & reduce the risks of getting sick.
Taper tantrums: coming off a big block of training, naturally, your body can feel beaten up, so it’s not unusual to have some soreness. But your mind can play tricks on you during this time, so the tiniest niggle can be blown out of proportion.
Prepare: It’s normal to have nerves and doubts over your training & ability to achieve your goals. Visualize yourself achieving your goals, pack your things for race day & familiarize yourself with the racecourse.
For further help with your pre-race taper, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at www.healthhp.com.au!
MUJIKA, IÑIGO; PADILLA, SABINO Scientific Bases for Precompetition Tapering Strategies, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 7 - p 1182-1187 doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000074448.73931.11