We are quickly approaching the Philadelphia Marathon, which soon finds us in the Tapering Phase. The taper is the final phase of training leading into the race. The bulk of marathon training is fixated on heavy volume mixed with specific endurance moves. The tapering phase is just as important, which is responsible for recovery and repair of the athlete’s body.
According to my Oxford dictionary TAPER- “is to reduce in thickness toward one end.” In other words we are reducing the thickness (heavy volume) of training in the end of our curriculum. The training intensity and volume become lighter and thinner in the tapering phase. The idea is to start your taper three weeks before the race, which allows for proper healing and rest. This time period promotes muscle growth and repair that builds a stronger athlete.
Do Not Be Deceived
Some advanced runners note that the most difficult part of the training isn’t necessarily the heavy volume part, but the reduced volume part. This period of the training can deceive the runner into thinking they are losing their fitness and gaining weight. The truth of the matter is that the taper allows you to be as rested as possible so you can maximize your potential without losing the fitness level.
Watch out for what I call the super man effect. The taper is such an effected beneficial part of your training. The physical effects of the rest period will result in feeling fresher and stronger. This means that the taper is working. The warning is that you will want to run your easier runs at a harder pace. What feels good at this time might be the very thing that will cost you in the Long Run (sorry no pun intended).
A suggested taper reduction in miles would be to run 80% of normal training three weeks out, 60% two weeks out, then one-third of your normal volume the last week leading to the race. For example, based on a 70-mile week training program. Three weeks out would be 56 miles, two weeks out 42 miles, and the last week ending in 20 miles. End your longest run three weeks out from the race, this distance should be 20 miles. Begin the tapering process using the 80%/60%/one-third calculation. Include a mixture of your marathon pace days with many easy runs. Keep your easy runs extremely easy this is a time to rest and heal. Long runs in the taper consist of the last 20 mile, followed by a 12 mile, then an eight mile the Sunday a week before the race.