After your varied training, with lots of slow runs, some fast runs, some intervals and some long runs, tapering is the most important thing to succeed on race day and get the most out of your training. Here Simon Grimstrup gives his tips on how to get it right.
Getting your taper right is a very individual thing, but a good idea is to look back into your training log and see how you did when you succeeded tapering and had that ‘superman-feeling’ at the start line. That is what we are all aiming for! If you never had that success or never thought about tapering – here is a little advice.
- Cut down on your mileage – not your training frequency
I would normally do my last really long run 3½-4 weeks before the run.
2 weeks before the race I would cut down my training volume by 30 percent
1 week before the race I would cut down my mileage 50-60 percent
It is very important you still do some fast running the weeks leading up to the race – otherwise, you probably end up feeling heavy and slow on the start line. The fast runs keep your muscle tension high and ready to go out and perform! It also helps to keep your VO2 max at the same level so it does not decrease during your taper.
- Racing weight
When you cut down the volume of training – you have to make sure you do not gain weight during the tapering period. Just 1-2 extra ‘bonus’ kilograms will slow you down.
So eat healthy: lots of carbohydrates, fruits, and veggies -but cut the intake a little… it is not so easy, as the stomach doesn’t care how much you train – it just wants food and lots of it!
- Mental preparation and gear
Being mentally well prepared and having the correct gear are also very important parts of tapering! You have to go through the gear list, go through the route profile and make a strategy for food intake, water points etc. This way you also visualize your race.
Think through how to mentally get through the hard patches. Make up some mantras you can use when going gets tough!
- The last 3 days
It is when the nerves kick in… but you must take it as easy as possible! Get some healthy food and get enough sleep!
You should keep your legs moving – but only during runs. I would do some small jogging with a little speedwork in the days leading to the race. Just short race pace runs – with a few minutes of fast running on each run.
The day before I would pack my race pack like it will be on the start line, and do a short jog – and even here go fast for a couple of minutes – just to check that everything is attached correctly, plus the speed keeps that muscle tension where it should be!