Run Your Best Race And Pace Pt. 10: Tapering To Improve Performance
When training for a race, especially the long ones, your training can become very time consuming & intense particularly as race week gets closer and closer. In order to perform at your best, cutting back and reducing your training and allowing your body to fully recover can really make a difference in your performance on the actual day.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? We would think that if we want to perform better we should be practicing hard and going strong until race day. But, really think about it, if you’re training for a marathon and you are doing some 16-18 mile training runs – that is no joke. As you work to identify and maintain your race pace and give your best performance, this recovery period is essential.
What exactly is tapering?
Think of tapering as a longer recovery. We all know about taking rest days and days off from training when we are tired and fatigued from working a particular muscle group really intensely – but have you ever tried tapering for a race? Maybe even unconsciously and just because it felt right on your training journey? Tapering is when you don’t work as hard in your training for a specific time frame in order to allow for optimal muscle recovery and the ability to really give one’s true best. Cutting back the amount of miles run per week is going to be crucial to your overall performance the day of.
How far out to taper
This timeframe is adjusted based on the duration and the intensity of the event you are training for. The ideal tapering time is between 2-3 weeks. If you are doing more of the longer distance races, especially the ultra marathons and other friends of their kind, you might need a slightly longer taper to help your body adjust and recuperate after having been and needing to spend many hours training in order to reach these distances – this is your time to relax.
How much to taper?
This is where you need to look at the weeks before and figure out how many miles you were running, on average, per week. For some of you marathon runners, you are already doing 15-17 miles at race pace come this time – this is a lot of serious work, time and, of course, recovery! When you are going for a 2 week taper, you are going to taper 25-30% of your weekly miles in the first week. Then you are going to go down to an accumulative 50% in the 2nd week – you’re really going to be putting your feet up. However, for those of you high in miles come tapering time, you’re still going to be running more days and more often.
When to start?
Okay, if you are doing a 2 week taper this time is going to come beginning 2 weeks in between your training plan and race day so make sure you plan accordingly. Don’t schedule your training plan to end the day you have your race – keep this taper time in there to give your body the break that it needs.
Do you have any pre race recovery tips? Share them with us in the comments.