Okay gang – for you regular readers this post is actually aimed at my friends who are currently tapering for an Ultra-Marathon – so feel free to skip this post!!
I’ve been studying runners, coaches, and training for around 20 years. I have helped tons of people get race fit – and I truly reckon that the last area that has not been mastered is tapering and the last 2 weeks before a big race. I’ve seen many approaches, and I’ve seen some interesting results.
So – what can I tell you that might help you?
- There is not one best approach. I’ve seen them all, and nothing stands out as best practice. I’ve seen far far more people make a mess of it, than I’ve seen get it right. There is not much you can do in the last 2 weeks before a marathon or ultra marathon that will help you – there is plenty of ways to sabotage yourself.
- In my experience, and based on science that I’ve read, you won’t lose any aerobic fitness if you take 4-5 entire days off training. This is good to know, because a long event really needs you at the start line as fresh as possible.
- Most good runners train right up to an event. I believe this has nothing to do with performance but more to do with the routine, feeling good, keeping ‘normal’.
- There is no point doing any kind of speedwork within a week of a race. No benefits to be gained, and risk of injury might be higher as you try to hammer out higher level work
What do I think you should do?
This may or may not be in line with what your coach advises – and that’s cool. It’s just my opinion. I think that you should do:
- 14 days out to 7 days out – drastically reduce your mileage. Cut it down to around 1/4 to 1/3 of the usual. Many coaches advise higher than that – I challenge them to justify that with actual real life data. I don’t believe there is any data.
- 7 days out to 4 days out. Very low mileage eg daily runs of no more than 30 minutes. Again – plenty do more, I believe there is not a physiological reason for that and if reducing right down helps you get super fresh.
- 3 days out to race day – take at least 1 or 2 days off entirely. Yep, it’s all about getting fresh. I’ve taken days off before a race and being very fresh and felt great. I’ve also trained right up and felt crap. You choose!
I’m happy to help anyone out there with their taper – I’ll be on the Squadrun page if you need me. Corey Hinde