Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Completing a Marathon: IV (a): The TAPER

CM SEAL Team blogger: Tim Grizzell

Hello Charlie Mike teammates – I was initially going to cover just the day of the race in the final post of my marathon series. After reviewing a previous answer to CM teammate, Joe G., regarding tapering, it was suggested that I should cover this topic and break up the blog up into two parts: tapering and the day of the race. It was a great idea!

Tapering is very important if you want to post a good marathon time. It gives your body the opportunity to recover from all of the hard training you put in leading up to the race. You can replenish energy, rejuvenate muscles and possibly kick any nagging injuries you might have up to this point.

The tapering rule of thumb is the longer the race – the longer the taper and the more important it becomes. This is especially true for distances marathon and above (3 weeks). For shorter distances, the taper generally starts about 1-2 weeks out.

The two categories of concern when discussing tapering are volume of training and intensity of training. I will talk about volume of training first. When starting a 3-week taper, you can either do a measured stepped reduction in volume over the entire period or a major reduction in volume at first (50% in the first week) followed by smaller reductions over the remaining taper period. In my opinion, the latter is most effective.

When it comes to intensity of training in the taper period, you still need to run at race pace (just not as far) at least one day a week leading up to the event. Although you will be reducing your volume, you should not being running all your runs during the taper at a slow pace leading up to the marathon. Your muscles will not be ready race day if you cut back too much on both volume and intensity.

I would also suggest that you do not change your daily routine/habits (e.g., sleep and diet) too much leading up to the event. Keep doing what you have been doing. It will be a shock to your body otherwise. The one area that you really should watch is your calorie intake. Since you will not be training as hard, you might put on an extra pound or two if you are not careful. The bottom line is that you should eat healthy foods and hydrate regularly.

Fired up and ready for your questions!


FYI Teammates --
Here's a link to Runner's World -- I do not follow every single blog, but I do check out a lot of them on a regular basis.


Joe G. said...

Great info., Tim. We're looking forward to hearing about your races!

Tim Grizzell said...

Thanks Joe. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!