Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Marathon Tips: Tapering

What is tapering, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Usually, we push our bodies when we exercise because it helps us burn calories and stay healthy. However, when we are training for intense extra-normal physical activity like an athletic event or a marathon, we put our bodies through even more intense daily activity because we are training, not just exercising. Our bodies weren’t necessarily created to go through that level of intensiveness continuously.

Now, as humans, obviously we want to keep pushing ourselves farther right before our goal because we think it makes a difference. But in reality, the last week before your marathon doesn’t change too much around what your body is capable of. If you could reach only 10 miles last week, you probably won’t magically be able to reach 15 miles 2 days before your big run without stressing your body out completely.

So yes, I know it doesn’t seem to make too much sense, but this is why it is important to rest the week before your workout. Most seasoned runners actually start to reduce their daily mileage a couple of weeks before the race. This process of slowing down and running less miles is called Tapering. Don’t discount it because it is pretty important.

Most trainers will advise you to start slowing down your mileage as you get closer to the date. I would say the best advice I have received is to cut runs to about 50% of what you normally do. A few days before the race, you should probably only be doing about a third of what you usually do, especially if you’re used to consistently running long and hard.

The day before the marathon should probably be a day you don’t run at all or a day that you run a very short distance, just to keep your feet going. Focus on getting your energy in on that day by eating right.

But be warned. It’s not all roses and lilies when you are tapering. Your body may not be used to slowing down and so you may find yourself cranky, losing focus, and convinced that you have no energy. Rest easy; the big race is just days away and you’ll be back to your regular self in no time!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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