Just as the title states, I have learned and honed my long-distance running taper and yes it is boring but true when people say ‘it is important to get it right and so easy to get it wrong’. I won’t bore you with lengthy stats and statistics but my aim of this blog is to provide you with some vital information surrounding marathon running and the final couple of weeks.
Trust your training – Undoubtedly you have trained throughout the Winter (luckily we seem to have managed to avoid the Beast from the East this year), either heading out early morning or late in the evening after work but you have done the grunt work. The last few months of long runs and interval training have all had their effect so all you should do now is reduce the workload but keep up the intensity. An intense 8 x 800m session should now become 4 x 800m or a 20 mile long run now becomes a gentle 14 mile run. Trust your training and trust the process.
Strength & Conditioning (S&C) – Hopefully you have done some S&C, at least some core work, during your training and maybe once or twice per week. Now is the time to reduce this to only one session per week or reduce the time of your one session (core work can be continued to be done twice a week). Weight sessions should become explosive movements such as kettlebell swings, pull-ups, box jumps and hamstring/glute bridges. If you have been doing barbell squats – reduce the weight, go slow on the way down and power up on the way back up, aiming to complete 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Nutrition & hydration – Don’t try anything new! Stick to your complex carbohydrates (the fuel), lean proteins (the recovery) and your vegetables (the wellbeing). This sounds boring but it is so worth sticking to what your body knows. Tapering means that your training reduces and you’re supposed to carbo load. However, if your training reduces and you continue to eat the same quantity of food, you are automatically storing more carbohydrate than your body is using ie. Carbo-loading. The night before the big race and obviously this more down to personal preference but rice might be a better option than pasta to avoid excessive bloating and eat a long time before trying to go to sleep. Hydrate the day before and morning of with a carbohydrate sports drink rather than just water to increase glycogen absorption into the muscles.
Rest & recover – Going back to point number one, you have done the training now is the time to put your feet up and enjoy some R&R. The shorter, less intense interval sessions and weight training sessions should put your body through less stress and require less recovery time BUT you no longer need to go out tomorrow and put in those tough miles. Make sure you arrive on that start line feeling as fresh as you possibly can.
I hope the above has either offered a bit of useful advice, cleared up a few loose ends or purely enhanced what you already know. The London Marathon is the weekend after Easter so try to avoid excessive Chocolate eating, well maybe just for one week, and ease up on the alcohol consumption, you’ll have plenty of beers at the finish line! Finally run strong and enjoy the experience!
Yours in running, Olivia and Oliver