Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taper Time

You've built your mileage base, you've been sharpening and fine-tuning your running with focused endurance, pace, and speed workouts and now it's time for the taper.

The length of the taper really depends on your running experience level and the mileage base you've built. Often beginning runners who may have a lower mileage base will need more taper time (about 3 weeks) prior to race day. More experienced runners who've logged more miles and who have had more time to condition their bodies to the mileage and hard workouts may actually need less taper time (about 2 weeks) prior to the race.

The key to tapering is reducing the mileage to about 75% of the normal weekly mileage 2-3 weeks before the marathon. The distance should further be reduced to about 50% the normal weekly mileage the week prior to race day. The long run should be reduced by the same amounts each week with the last extra long run done 2-3 weeks before the marathon. A long run should not be run the weekend prior to the race.

Remember that the three days leading up to the race will be your carb-loading days, so you'll want to avoid intense workouts in order to conserve your glycogen stores. If you've have cabin fever the day before the race and are feeling antsy, then it's fine to do a short, easy 10-20 minute jog. Some experts say it's even fine to do a short 2-minute really fast interval the day before either on the track or a treadmill.

Suggested Taper Plans
Your plan may differ from the suggestions below, but this will give you and idea of how the mileage begins to decrease the last weeks prior to the marathon.

Beginner: (base of 20-miles per week; first-time marathoner)
Three Weeks Before Marathon: Last 20-miler 3 weeks prior to race day
Two Weeks Before Marathon: 4 runs of 4-6 miles each; long run 75% of last long run
One Week Before Marathon: 4 to 5-mile run; 2 x 1600m @ race pace; two 2-4mile runs; one easy 10-15minute jog; long run 50% of last long run

Note: The 1600m intervals should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down.

Intermediate Level A: (base of 25-30 miles per week; may have run 1 or more marathons)
Three Weeks Before Marathon: Last 20-miler 3 weeks prior to race day
Two Weeks Before Marathon: 5-mile run; 4-mile Pace run; 5-mile run; 6-8mile run; long run 75% of last long run
One Week Before Marathon: 5-mile run; 2 x 1600m @ race pace; two 2-4mile runs; one easy 10-15minute jog; long run 50% of last long run

Note: The pace run should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down; the 1600m intervals should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down.

Intermediate Level B: (base of 25-30 miles per week; may have run 1 or more marathons)
Three Weeks Before Marathon: Last 20-miler 3 weeks prior to race day
Two Weeks Before Marathon: 6-mile run; 6-mile Pace run; 6-mile run; 8-10mile run; 6-mile run; long run 75% of last long run
One Week Before Marathon: 6-mile run; 2 x 1600m @ race pace; two 3-5mile runs; one easy 10-15minute jog; long run 50% of last long run

Note: The pace run should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down; the 1600m intervals should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down.

Advanced Runner: (base of 50 miles per week; may have run several marathons)
Three Weeks Before Marathon: Last 20-miler 3 weeks prior to race day (some advanced runners may feel comfortable doing their last long run 2 weeks prior to race day)
Two Weeks Before Marathon: 7-mile run; 7-mile run; 6-mile Pace run; 7-mile run; 10-12mile run; 7-mile run; long run 75% of last long run
One Week Before Marathon: 7-mile run; 7-mile run; 2 x 1600m @ race pace; two 3-6mile runs; one easy 10-15minute jog; long run 50% of last long run

Note: The pace run should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down; the 1600m intervals should be preceded by a 1-mile slow warm-up and followed by a 1-mile slow jog cool-down.

9 comments:

TammyRunsWV said...

What about tapering for a half marathon?

IzzyBubbles said...

I've always gone with a taper because it makes me feel fresher on race day, but think it's interesting that if you use a Runner's World smart coach plan there's no taper involved.

Adam said...

I start tapering in 2 weeks! Eeek!!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Tammy! 10 days makes a good taper for a half marathon. For races shorter than a half, I've read where it's a good idea to taper 1 day for every 2 kilometers of the race distance.

RunnerDude said...

Hey IzzyBubbles!! I've read several research studies that all say the taper is one of the best ways to have a good performance on race day. You're a wise woman!I've wondered myself why The Runner's World Smart Coach plan doesn't have a taper. I can see where there may be a debate over how long the taper be, but I think most all of the "experts" agree that there should be some type of taper to give the body time to repare itself and be in tiptop shape for race day.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Adam! Wow! I can't believe your taper time is almost here! You're going to do awesome come race day!

OOTAYNEE (As in the Jawa scream) said...

Hey RunnerDude
Great blog!
I am about to enter the "taper zone". I want to follow what you are saying, because on my first ever race (10 k), I did the unimaginable. I pushed my farthest distance the week before (24 k). It was dumb and I got injured (piriformis). Thanks for your input, I will be putting your blog on my blog.
Here is my contribution oto the world. :P
http://runningfool-ootaynee.blogspot.com/

OOTAYNEE (As in the Jawa scream) said...

oops, my race is a 1/2 marathon in Kelowna BC, Canada.

RunnerDude said...

Hey OOOTAYNEE! Welcome to the blog! So, glad that the taper post was helpful!! Keep me posted on your 1/2 marathon in Kelowna!! You'll do great!