Tapering for a Marathon - The Final Week
While most marathoners eagerly anticipate their final taper week as a well-earned vacation from hard core jogging, the last week before a marathon for some can be the hardest part of the entire marathon training process.
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For months you have piled on the miles, taxed your heart with track sprints, and pounded your legs with hill repeats; and now you must...what? Go easy? Sit on the couch? Eat like a NFL player? Not quite. However, you must significantly adjust your training regimen to allow your body to recover and prepare for this monumental event.
Below you will find a sample Taper week for marathoners. Consider it just a guide, to provide an idea of the type of reduction that is necessary for mental and physical preparation. It is a typical Taper week that I followed when running marathons and that I recommend to those I coach/provide advice to:
Day Off - likely you just did a long run on Sunday...maybe around 12 to 14 miles? so, enjoy the well earned day off and stay off of your feet as much as possible
Your last harder workout. While nothing is HARD this week, Tuesday is a good day to get that last bit of speed out of your system. Try a 45 minute run at 10 to 15 seconds under your goal race pace after a 10 minute easy jog warm up. Then, finish with 4 efforts of 30 seconds where you do 10 seconds moderate fast, 10 seconds faster, and 10 seconds even faster--all together. Your last 10 seconds should be done at around 85% to 90% of maximum effort.
40 to 50 minute easy recovery jog
30 to 40 minutes moderate pace (maybe run the last two miles of the course?). In the middle do 4, 10 second sprints which start out at a moderate speed and end at 80% of your top speed (you never want to be anywhere near 100% sprinting speed)
Day Off - pick up your race packet today, don't wait till tomorrow; and, don't spend hours on your feet at the Expo or walking around town--that will defeat the purpose of a day off
10 to 15 minute, embarrasingly slow jog; no hills; just enough to get your legs loose and ready for tomorrow