The goal of the taper is to reach a state of physical and mental readiness. The taper should start 21 days after your last long run. At this point in your training, the hard physical work is done. As hard as it is, the best thing you can do to ensure optimal performance on race day is to pull the throttle back gradually. Below are 3 tips for a success marathon taper:
1. Train Less! You need to give your body a chance to recover and absorb all the hard work you have done. A taper will help muscle glycogen, enzymes, hormones and antioxidants return to normal levels. Each week decrease your training volume gradually. In week 1, decrease your mileage by 10-20%. In week 2, decrease mileage by 30-40% and in week 3, decrease mileage by 60-70%.
2. Rest More! With the reduced training load, you will have more free time. This is not the time to take on new projects around the house. You’ve trained very hard. You need and deserve more rest, so your body can heal and get stronger. Get an extra hour of sleep per night, spend more time with your feet elevated, and schedule a weekly massage.
3. Ignite the Fire! The physical work is done, and the money is in the bank. Now is the time to mentally prepare for the physical AND mental battle you are about to encounter. Over the course of the taper, say your goal out loud to yourself every morning when you wake up, have a mantra that you recite to yourself 3 times per day, and use this mantra when the going gets tough on race day. And most of all, visualize your success. Always remember, “what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.”
Remember the 3 key ingredients to success: Train hard, rest harder and believe in yourself!