After day in and out of training, we all look forward to tapering week, no? The main objective of tapering is to give your body a chance to rebuild and refuel such that your body muscles feel at its peak, yet at the same time being in top cardiovascular shape. However, tapering is a skill people find difficult to master – you can’t under-do it, nor overdo it. There is a fine balance to tapering. People make a lot of mistakes – be it too little running or too much eating.
#1 Dropping Mileage
The biggest mistake runners make is to rest too much too soon. They over-taper. This will often lead to a sluggish lazy feeling instead of making you feel good. Of course it is wise to drop mileage but, to perform your best, you need to maintain your aerobic fitness without exhausting your body. Dropping your mileage about 20 – 30 per cent a week will be sufficient. Don’t completely take the week off running.
It is also important to maintain some kind of intensity during training. Although the hardest workout days are now behind you, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sneak in a hard run. Personally, I like to do a hard 10 km run exactly a week before my marathon.
#2 Getting Off Your Normal Routine
Our body responds best to consistency. Straying from your normal routine can actually have a real detrimental effect to your performance on race day. First of all you may feel sluggish on race day. Secondly and more importantly, getting off your standard routine may reduce your confidence going in the race. So if you’re used to running 5 times a week, go ahead with the same routine but go lighter with the workouts. This way, you can go into a run feeling physically and mentally good.
#3 Expecting To Feel Good
Sometimes we have a little too much faith in tapering. We expect to feel at our best. Well, we rested so much, our legs should not feel fatigue. After tapering, some people may expect to feel like superman. Well, if you think that way, you are definitely in for a rude awakening. Running hard hurts, always! Be prepared to hurt! Tapering does not take that pain away. Thing is when it starts to hurt, instead of having the confidence to push through, athletes may start to give up and question their training instead. This has been the cause of many DNFs.
You have got to prep yourself mentally to face these adversities. No race will come easy! Trust the process but also do not forget that you have to push through the pain!
Get the tapering right and be on your way to your next marathon personal best!