In the run up to the London Marathon we thought what better time to talk about pre race prep. We asked running experts Richard Felton and Emma Kirk-Odunubi from Profeet to give us their top tips on marathon tapering.
What is Tapering?
It allows muscle energy stores to return to their peak levels (glycogen). During training your bodies metabolic systems will have been stretched. By tapering it allows them to return to their optimal ranges. It will also allow your muscles to rejuvenate and recover. To summarise tapering allows your body to prepare for peak performance. Some studies have shown a proper taper can improve times in race by up to 3%!
3 weeks out
By this time you should have completed your longest run of your training programme. Firstly, don’t worry if it was hard- it is supposed to be! Also, if new niggles arose that haven’t before, don’t panic. You have been pushing your body & mind in training for the last 14-18weeks, little aches are natural. 3 weeks out your mileage should be maintained but nothing excessive.
At this point you should also have tested out your race kit in a long run, shoes included. If you feel totally unsure whether your shoes will last the race, this would be the very last time to change them for race day. That being said, at all costs don’t change the model. Buy the exact shoe you had previous to avoid any breaking in difficulties, and honestly to be on the safe side!
From a nutritional point of view, change nothing. Keep it consistent. It is not the time to cut on calories that’s for sure. Make sure you are keeping your water intake at about 2-3 litres to stay hydrated
2 weeks out
Now, this week is when runs should reduce and be done all at an easy pace. One or two shorter runs should also be carried out at race pace- nothing far, 5-6 miles. This is essential only to keep the legs ticking over. In all other areas of your training you should be putting in time stretching and having some final massages. Any weights sessions for lower body should be eased off at this point also.
Nutritionally at the end of this week, you should now begin carbohydrate loading. Carbohydrate loading is a principle by which you increase your glycogen stores to a high level in the body, so that on race day you simply have more energy stored. These carbohydrates should mainly be complex such as rice, whole grains and pasta as well as, fruits/vegetables and proteins. Proteins are mainly consumed to help with muscle recovery.
1 week out
With a week to go, focus on getting as much sleep as possible to be fully recovered. Stretching should be your key focus. Nutritionally don’t cut calories! Even though you are not exercising as much, your body still needs to store the energy- so now is not the time to be calorie conscious!
Lastly, remember you have put in all the hard work for race day. Just go out enjoy it. Don’t forget, running a marathon is an incredible achievement so no matter whether you cross that line running, walking or even crawling, you made it!
Good luck to all of you!