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Start of the 1977 ACT Marathon (I'm in there somewhere)
Tapering for a marathon used to be one of my favourite times.  The training pressure comes off, and you can run for less time and less intensely without guilt.  If your training has gone well, pleasant anticipation of the race builds and visions of success become almost palpable.  As your body freshens up and minor injuries abate, you feel stronger and more capable as each day passes.

Conversely, tapering can be a worrying time.  Rationality can go out the window and emotions can take over.  After training hard for months, you wonder about the wisdom of reduced training intensity and fret about losing your edge, or putting on weight.  A lot of self-examination goes on.  Small niggles becomes potentially serious injuries.  Every training run becomes a test of your readiness, and if the run is hard work, you question whether you are ill or over-trained, or maybe under-trained.  If anybody coughs near you, or complains of feeling unwell, your first thought is of your own health, and not theirs.  There is a temptation to modify your diet to include more carbohydrates and build your energy reserves, maybe even precede it with a depletion phase.

Nearing the end of the 1977 ACT Marathon (2nd, 2:32)
Over the years, I have fallen foul of all of these concerns, and maybe still do (see post titled The idea forms).  However, when asked by others for advice about tapering, my response tends to be more rational.  I think two weeks of taper is enough, with training distances and intensity reduced to 75% of full load in the first week, and 50% in the second week.  However, it's hard to generalise about the appropriate level of tapering, and some runners need not cut their training intensity by that much.  Having said that, I don't think I have ever felt, post-race, that I tapered too much.

Otherwise, I like to keep things as normal as possible, sticking with the usual training routines and diet.  The very act of tapering will lead to a build-up of the body's energy stores, and there is risk attached to changing diet and habits.  It's worth staying away from sick people and catching up on any sleep deficit.  Finally, I would advise having faith in the training you have done and not fretting about losing condition or feeling over-tired on any runs in the taper period.

For reasons discussed in yesterday's post, Get fit quick, I only plan a one week taper for the Melbourne Marathon on 13 October, and am still training relatively hard this week.  I expected this morning's run to be difficult after yesterdays 37km road run, but it went better than hoped.  It wasn't fast by any means, but the 11.5km  passed by easily enough and my legs did not feel too fatigued.  My right Achilles tendon was quite stiff and sore, but that was anticipated, and my right knee was less painful than expected.  Overall, the run was encouraging and I feel my short-term fitness strategy may be working.