Tapering is the period of reduced mileage in the final weeks before a race, allowing your muscles to recover, get stronger and be ready to rock on race day. After chatting to a lot of experienced runners, it is clear that tapering is a very personal thing. But most would agree that some sort of taper is needed in order to recover from months of training, and the cumulative fatigue that it brings with it. If you want the muscles to adapt and stock up on glycogen before race day, a taper is a must!

How long the taper lasts, how much you reduce your training, and how hard a runner pushes the intensity are very personal things. Again most would agree that more problems arise from doing too much, rather than too little.

I have always considered my tapers to be pretty textbook. 2-3 weeks for a marathon with the highest mileage week immediately before the taper. And 2 weeks to 10 days for a half marathon. Although I have these figures in mind, I would also add that listening to your body to some extent is a sensible thing. If for example I am planning a two week taper, and I am really suffering three weeks before the race, I would be happy to start the taper early.

My basic rules for tapering have been:

  1. Keep the same number of runs.
  2. Reduce the distance of those runs by 25% for each week of tapering.
  3. And finally to maintain the intensity of each run, reducing the distance covered in faster sections or the number of reps.

This has meant a normal pre race week of 20-30k before race day. Could it be that this has been far too much?

So what will be different this week?

Firstly, I will run only three times before the Sunday race. My total distance before race day will be a maximum of 13k. Roughly a 50% reduction in normal volume. My intensity will drop to a total of only 10 minutes of race pace running spread throughout the three runs. There will be no circuit training and no cycling. In short a week of huge cut backs with one goal…fresh legs on Sunday 27th May for the Edinburgh Half Marathon.

I will report back…