Marathon Training – Week 15: Tapering

Congratulations on completing almost four solid months of dedicated training! It’s am impressive feat. The next two weeks is the final push to the start-line, and it is an important  […]

Health Health & Fitness Brian Webb

This article was published on April 15th, 2013

Keep Calm and Taper OnCongratulations on completing almost four solid months of dedicated training! It’s am impressive feat. The next two weeks is the final push to the start-line, and it is an important  time for marathon runners; it’s called tapering.

“Tapering is the fine art of rest,” explains Running Room founder and CEO, John Stanton. “The more you rest the final week the better you will run on race day.”

More than just rest, this time period is also used for mental preparation, allowing the body to repair itself for the big race, and to store valuable fuels for race day.

Keep focused on maintaining the daily intake of carbohydrates, especially in the final five days leading up to the marathon. If you prepare correctly throughout the week, carb-loading the night prior to the race isn’t as critical. Also keep in mind to decrease your meal portion size and quantity of snack because your body is burning less calories because you are running less distance.

“You have passed your test during the miles of training, race day if your graduation day,” said John Stanton, encouraging marathon runners at the end of their training program.

The secret to tapering is to do all runs relaxed and easy. Runs should keep your legs loose with a couple of easy accelerations to remind you of how it feels to run fast. If you have anxiety of the upcoming race day, use it positively during your remaining training runs.

Keep positive and stay focused throughout the taper period. Recite these words if you are ever in doubt of your training:

I am strong. I am fit. I can do it! I see myself crossing the finish line with a smile!

Here are five important tips to remember during the taper period:

  1. Stick to the training schedule. It’s temping to do additional training, but trust the schedule, the hard work is behind you and it’s time to let the body rest and recover.
  2. Drink an extra glass of water each day, to help flush the body of toxins.
  3. Eliminate all fat from your diet. Stay away from deep fried foods, ice cream, refined sugar, and alcohol.
  4. Reduce caffine intake. In the week leading up to race day, try to eliminate all coffee, energy drinks and pop.
  5. Take advantage of the reduced training time to get extra sleep. It will help the body heal.

During the tapering period, you may experience what is called phantom pain.

Phantom pains are when you sense the feeling of pain, but you cannot clearly distinguish if it really hurts or not. What’s actually happening is the tissues are repairing themselves on the microscopic level, causing muscle twitches and sometimes muscle cramps. With less running and more time to think about the marathon, there is increased noticed of aches and pains, which we would typically ignore, but during taper, these sensations are exaggerated to the point of insanity.  To help with phantom pains, it’s important to continue with regular Epsom salt baths and to visit a massage therapist.


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