After training through the tough winter, it is now time for some much needed rest and recovery, its time to taper! Tapering sounds really great when you are in peak training and exhausted, but once the second week of taper approach it can make a runner go crazy and through withdrawal experiencing the so-called ‘taper madness’.
“So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they’re desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don’t,” says Patti Finke, “What they don’t realize is that in those last few weeks it’s the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don’t lose fitness in 3 or 2 weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn’t change at all.” Medical studies as evidence that the final three weeks of any marathon-training program are the most critical stage of training; optimal levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones, which are significantly depleted by intense endurance training, are achieved during a taper. So, if you feel antsy and nervous, just look back at all the training that’s gotten you here and have confidence in that preparation, you don’t want to sacrifice all the time and effort you put into your training. Besides, hard activity during the last 10 days before the race will give you minimal results. Stick to the plan! I personally embrace running 20 miles at the same level I embrace tapering, it’s all part of the journey and they are equal important.
Benefits of Tapering:
- Restore depleted nutrient stores in the body, such as glycogen, to their maximum.(
- Rebuild minor injuries in muscle and connective tissue (it takes a minimum of 5 days)
- Muscles will be fresh and fatigue free on race day, reducing the chance of injury.
- Reducing lactic acid production.
- Restore enzymes and antioxidants
- Rebalance hormones
- Strengthen the immune system
Things to keep in mind when tapering are:
- Frequency has to remain around 80% of previous training patterns.
- Intensity has to be reduced to limit the risk of muscle damage before the race. Small amount speedwork will keep you sharp remain at or above that of competition level.
- Each week of the taper, the total weekly mileage should drop between 10 and 20%. The total drop in volume from peak volume should be about 50-75% by the end of the taper period.
- Don’t be surprised if you feel some new aches and pains. It’s a normal part of the process, as your body repairs itself from months of training.
- Sleep is a very important part of the tapering process. Try to get at least eight hours a night because you won’t sleep much the day before the Marathon.
- Eat a lot of protein the first week to support the repair and recovery of muscle tissue damaged during the high-mileage phase of marathon training. Shoot for 75 to 100 grams of protein per day.
- Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates (whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals), and drink plenty of fluids. In the week before your marathon, about 65-70% of your calories should come from carbs.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages since they dehydrate you.
- It’s normal to gain some weight. Runners who have properly carbo-loaded should gain about 1 to 3 pounds. Why? Because for every ounce of carbohydrate stored in your body, you store almost three ounces of water. Therefore, those gained pounds are water weight and it shows that you have done a great job fueling your muscles!
And don’t forget to buy the shoes you plan to wear in the marathon, and wear them on most of your runs until race day. Stick with a brand or model that’s worked well for you in the past. Most running shoes lose their cushioning and resiliency at 300 to 500 miles. Last week my husband bought me a new pair of Ascics G-2150, even though they are discontinued he was still able to find a pair online. They served me really good and I don’t see the point on changing the model, at list not for now!
So, for the next 2 weeks, I am going to reduce the miles continuing to do interval and tempo workouts at a slightly reduced volume. There is a common phrase used in marathon training, “The hay is in the barn” meaning that the hard work is finished!