Five key factors to your taper for the half or full marathon. You’ve finished the longest run and now you begin your taper for your race which is a few weeks away.
1) Weekly mileage – The Forerunners program is not a high mileage program therefore the weekly mileage drop is not as dramatic. A high mileage program asks for a drop of up to 50 percent of weekly mileage, while the three run per week program’s major difference is in the weekly long run.
2) Running paces – During your taper phase you want to maintain your paces in your speed-work, tempo runs and long runs. Only on race week do you ease back on pace. Don’t run any extreme workouts; you can no longer boost your fitness without causing too much fatigue and there is not enough time to recover.
3) Fueling – carbo-loading is not as important until race week. The past month of long run training demanded carbo-loading. Now you don’t need that. Back away from high calorie eating and focus on low calorie high nutrient density foods.
4) Stay healthy – You’ve worked very hard putting in all those miles. With weeks to go before the big race it’s not time to start a new sport or begin training for a high/medium risk sport. Pushing yourself to the limit in training over the past 2 months leaves you in a delicate state of fitness. You could easily upset that balance by playing soccer, floor hockey, rugby, skiing etc. The list goes on but runners do decide to take up a new activity during the taper phase because they are feeling so good. Then they end up twisting an ankle. You’ve worked hard; save it for the race.
5) Be Prepared – while you have the time get everything ready. Organize your travel, shoes, running gear, etc. Put it all together well in advance so you can relax during the week leading up to the race.
Be ready to race. During the taper you want to build your mental and physical energy stores for your supreme effort on race day by allowing fatigue levels to drop down. At the same time you want to maintain your fitness level. Your race performance is a function of fitness less fatigue; when fatigue falls your race performance rises.