Tips for tapering for your race!
If you are going for a personal or seasonal best on your next race, or even a good run out to see where your fitness is at, then we would recommend you taper the week of your race. Here we explain more.
What is tapering?
Tapering is reducing your training load in the build up to a race to help us fully recover and energise. If we feel fresher, we can turn up to race day with our best legs, feeling sharp and ready to go. This usually occurs in the final 1-3 weeks before a race, depending on the distance.
Why should I taper?
Training hard in the final week or two before race day will bring us minimal fitness gains and only leave us feeling tired and heavy legged. As a result, we reduce our training volume and intensity so that our body has time to fully recover from the hard training of the previous weeks and months. This allows our bodies to build back their carbohydrate stores and allows any muscle damage to repair.
What should I do when I am tapering?
Tapering usually starts the day after your final long training run. Your final long run will be set out in your training plan but if you don’t follow one this will be between 2 and 4 weeks before your race. The longer the race, the longer the taper! During the taper weeks, your schedule will look the same but the volume of your runs will reduce. You might have an additional rest day too. Don’t worry, you can still do some speed work. Keeping a lower volume interval or tempo session in your week will help to keep you ‘sharp’ and capable of running fast. Your last speed session should be at least 3-4 days before your race.
Focus for race week
For most of us, tapering feels super counter-intuitive, and can be the hardest period of a training block. We’ve spent weeks and months training hard, making good habits and building our mileage, only to feel like we’re going backwards right before the race – but trust us here! With the extra time on your hands, the focus should be on recovery. Get some extra sleep, add some mobility and stretching, and cook yourself some high quality meals. Trust the process and get ready to leave it all out there on race day!