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The Art of the Taper

Posted November 7th, 2014 in Coach's Corner by Kate Lillicrapp

This week’s blog post will focus on a portion of distance run training called tapering.  You may have heard the word before, but if you’re still wondering exactly what it means to taper or why it’s so important to your training then read on friends.

With the Philadelphia marathon and half marathon two weeks away, you are probably in the taper portion of your training.  Tapering typically begins three weeks before your race. In this phase, you cut your mileage and work effort to allow your body to recover before giving your all-out effort on race day.  It’s important to remember that you’re not going to lose aerobic capacity or fitness by backing off in the last few weeks before a marathon—the opposite will actually happen; your rest will turn around and make you stronger and more prepared on race day.  The hay is in the barn, so to speak, and all your work up to that point is what will make you successful on race day, provided that you continue to train smart in your taper weeks and not run yourself into the ground.

Another important aspect of tapering is nutrition. You want to be sure you’re eating enough so that your body can continue to repair muscle fibers and store glycogen.  While you’re probably focused on carbohydrates, don’t neglect protein and make sure you’re taking in lots of water as well.  Also, remember that TWO nights before your race is the most important night of sleep.  Try as you might, you more than likely will not sleep well right before the big race.  You can counter some of the effects of this by making sure you get quality shut-eye in the preceding days.

I will leave you with this last piece of advice: now is probably a good time to determine how many miles you have on your current shoes and decide if you need to get a new pair for the big day.  Two to three weeks is plenty of time to break in a pair of shoes, but don’t put it off any further.  Stop by either Bryn Mawr Running Company location if you need a new pair of race-day kicks. If you have any questions or need last minute advice, be sure to ask any of our employees…we love to talk to runners about their races and offer our tried and true tips to a great race-day!

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