The Art of Tapering

by Karen Bertasso

The hardest part of marathon training is getting to the starting line healthy. The second hardest part is the taper. It’s not uncommon to have “phantom” pains during this period or question whether or not you are fit enough. Here are a few do’s and don'ts of taper!

Do go back through your training log. Look at workouts you’ve nailed and long runs that felt easy!

Do get extra sleep and continue to keep up your calories. Your body is repairing all the hard work you’ve put your muscles through the past 12-16 weeks. Keep a healthy balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats.

Do continue to run and include speed. Even though your training is winding down that doesn’t mean you can just completely relax now. Your overall mileage should decrease as well as the quantity of your workouts. However the quality (or speed) should be maintained, if not slightly intensified the last few weeks. For example, you may have done longer, but more Marathon specific workouts 6-8 weeks ago. Now those workouts can become shorter and a bit quicker!

Don’t take on new projects since you now have more time because you are running less. The spring cleaning, yard work and house projects can wait until after the marathon! Use the extra time to sit on you butt and catch up on some shows or read a book!

Don’t try anything new. This goes for race day as well as the week of. Don’t try a new Chinese restaurant that could potentially leave you sick, don’t get a massage if you’ve never had one before and don’t try anything new on Race day! Hopefully you’ve pinned down your race day nutrition in your practice runs by now and have a plan! This goes for clothing too! Nobody wants to wear a new outfit only to find out half way through their marathon that they are chafing!

Don’t do your sight seeing before the marathon. Many marathoners pick destination races that can serve as a race and vacation at the same time. Save the exploring for after the race (side note: walking around after a marathon really helps with recovery). I’ve never been ashamed to UMayPaceSetterber several blocks the day before a marathon!

Do trust your training and Do have fun!!!

Happy Running!

Karen has a USATF LEVEL 1 coaching certification and can be contacted about coaching at:

Her Marathon Best Times:

2:45 Hartford Marathon

2:46 California International Marathon

2:46 Houston Marathon

2:48 London Marathon

2:49 Berlin Marathon


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