Almost all athletes and coaches agree that tapering – the reduction of training in a systematic way – is a good thing, because it ensures good recovery from heavy training and is a key part of preparation for an important event. A well-planned taper leads to improved running economy and increases in muscle strength and power.
THE HARDEST PART FOR MANY ATHLETES IS PLANNING THE TAPERING PORTION OF THEIR PROGRAM.
Too much rest and you may reach the starting line feeling sluggish and unfit. Too little rest and your body has in-adequately recovered.
During this phase, your training is not geared toward physical improvement, in fact, there are very little fitness gains you can make this close to race day. It’s more about allowing your body to catch up to itself. In other words, you will be cutting back your kilometres to allow muscle improvement as well as allowing your internal system to achieve optimal levels prior to race day.
Tapering for a marathon is going to be different to a half, and vastly different to a 5 or 10km race. Tapering is subjective, depending on many factors, such as ability, experience, training rate and even own personal physiology.
Tapering for a marathon starts roughly 2-3 weeks out from race day. It should start after your last hardest session or long run. If there are no injuries or fatigue to worry about, then your training schedule will be like every other week- same types of workouts, same pace and intensity, but MUCH less volume.
Some suggest a 25, 50, 75% decrease over 3 weeks, (not counting the race). More experienced runners tend do a shorter, sharper recovery up to 80 % less. The quicker reduction has said to spur more rapid recovery from and response to the previous training.
A HALF MARATHON tends to have 1-2 weeks taper.
A 5-10 km race depends a lot on whether you are a first timer or going for that PB.
SOME GOOD GENERAL GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW ARE:
1. If you have any sort of issue going on during the taper, your priority should be getting to 100 percent. Don’t freak out about the lost kilometres or sessions. Wait until that two-weeks-to-go mark and then decide if you’ve overdone it a bit or if you’re feeling pretty good. Plan accordingly.
2.Try to do sessions with same pace and intensity but much less volume.
3. If you start to feel lethargic in the several days before your marathon, that is actually a good sign that you are tapering well. You should notice a marked rise in energy starting the day or two before the race. Just be patient.
4. If competing in a 5 or 10km, doing some short, sharp intensity or interval sessions in the last week. This has been said to prepare your neuromuscular systems for the same intensities and overall movement which will be used in the race.
5. Don’t plan your taper until you get there. It should never be set in stone because runners are stubborn and it sets them up to do too much.
Good general rule is to do a little less than you want to.
6.Tapering should include more rest days. Which means complete rest. These days off enhance fitness and reduce fatigue. A common mistake is to get too nervous about losing fitness levels you have achieved up to this point in training. The most important thing to do is RELAX, CHILL OUT
When you find yourself thinking about the race, change the subject in your mind. The nervous energy that thinking about the race can create, will come in handy on race day so save it until then!
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO MAKE IT TO THE START LINE INJURY FREE AND FEELING READY TO RACE NO MATTER WHAT THE DISTANCE.