It’s April, it’s marathon month, and this can only mean one thing! It’s taper time! The taper can be a tough time for a runner. This is where we absorb the training after a tough few months of building up, ensuring our legs are recovered enough to run our best race. Read on to learn my top ten taper tips.
1) Resist the temptation to do too much
You’ve been training hard for several months, so when you start tapering off, you will have more free time, and probably a lot of energy. Resist the temptation to go out for extra runs, or to do things that may risk you injuring yourself. Instead, take pleasure in taking things a bit slower. Perhaps go out for a walk instead, or spend an extra 20 minutes stretching.
2) Analyse but don’t dwell on your build up
It is worth looking at your training and determining how much you managed versus how much you thought you’d manage. Typically, we like someone to have done above 80% of their training to stand a good chance of reaching their goals. If you’ve done less than that, you may need to adjust your goal posts.
3) Confirm any logistics.
If you haven’t already, make sure you know your travel plans, any hotel reservations are confirmed, and you know how you’re going to get your race number.
4) Plan when you’ll buy your food and fuel
You’ve already practised this, but you don’t want to find on the day that the brand or flavour you have practised with isn’t available. Now is the time to do your shopping.
5) Book a sports massage pre- and post race
Self explanatory, but ideally 3-5 days prior to your race have a sports massage, and then another one 3-5 days after the race. Any closer to the race, and you may find it detrimental to ‘getting going’ on your race, or afterwards you may be too tender to really reap the benefits of your sports massage.
6) Manage any persistent problems that may need some tape ahead of the race
RockTape have some great videos on their website to show you how to apply the tape yourself, or if you’re local to me, I can show you how.
7) Choose your target pace range for the day
Now you’ve been through your training, you should have a pretty good idea of what you might be capable of. Now is the time to really decide what you are going to do on the day, and account for conditions. For example, if it’s going to be 20 degrees warmer than all of your training, you may need to reassess your goals. There will always be other marathons.
8) Choose a range of goals for the day A, B and C
I like to do this because a marathon is a really long way, and sometimes, it just isn’t your day. This could be anything from the time of the month, to having had a bad night’s sleep, or just simple bad luck. When I was running my Boston Qualifying marathon, I was in shape to achieve about a 3:23 so that was my A goal. My B goal was sub 3:30, and my C goal was the Boston Qualifier which was 3:35. I had an absolutely awful run that day, and a lot went wrong, so I ended up not achieving my ‘A’ or ‘B’ goals, but because I still had the ‘C’ goal to achieve, I kept trying right until the end, whereas it was obvious from shortly after half way that I wasn’t going to achieve the ‘A’ goal.
9) Trust in the training
Although it may not seem like it, your training will get you to a point of readiness for the race, and you certainly don’t need to do any more during the taper. Trust in the training you’ve done.
10) Dedicate each mile
This was some advice I was given before my first marathon, which was to dedicate each mile of the race to someone special in your life. If you are running that mile for someone important to you, you will keep going and do it for them.
Definitely dedicate one of those miles to yourself!
For more guidance on getting to the start line as prepared as you can be, download my free marathon preparation guide here.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.