Tapering isn’t as simple as dialing back your weekly mileage and the intensity of your workouts and with fall marathon season upon us here are a few things to avoid leading up to your big race.
Resting Too Much
One mistake marathon runners can make in the last three weeks leading into the race is over-tapering. This will often lead to a flat, sluggish feeling on race day and increases the chance that you’ll get sick as your metabolism and immune system are thrown out of whack due to the sudden change in activity and decreased demands on the body.
Most athletes don’t feel good immediately following a couple of extra easy days or a rest day. They expect immediate gratification and a newfound a pep in their step with just a few easy days. Keep in mind that it can take up 10 to 12 days to fully absorb and recover from a long run or hard workout.
Most runners will find that reducing weekly mileage to 80-90% of maximum will provide a sufficient respite from the training load without leaving them feeling flat or sluggish.
Likewise, make sure you maintain some race specific intensity throughout the week and are not restricting yourself to just easy runs. While your hardest workouts are definitely behind you, it’s important not to step off the gas pedal right away.
Run softly and run specific!
Lack Of Specificity
Another marathon tapering mistake runners make is not keeping the workouts specific to the marathon in the last two weeks of the training cycle. For example, often runners try to do short, speed-oriented workouts to build confidence, make them feel faster, or because the thought of long workouts during the taper phase scares them.
The problem with this approach is two-fold. First, by performing a workout that uses an energy system you haven’t been utilizing in the last four to six weeks, you actually fatigue your muscles more because your body isn’t conditioned to it. It would similar to performing a set of heavy squats when you haven’t lifted weights in 4-6 weeks.
Second, one of the most critical components to race-day success is being able to execute your race plan and run the correct pace, especially at the start of the race. In the last two weeks, you should capitalize on the opportunity to practice marathon pace. Not only does this ensure you’re working the exact energy systems you need for race day, but it will provide that crucial, last-minute pacing feedback you need to execute the perfect race plan.
You do not taper for marathons often but when you do focus on race specific pace, good luck!
Unsure how to start your strength program use these core strength routines from RunningDVDs.com after your recovery workouts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and these strength routines after your main workouts on Wednesday and Saturday.
If you are just starting your running or roller ski program it is a good idea to start with basic balance exercises and progress to the beginner core routine as you balance improves.
Start with the beginner program completing the workout after your regular running or roller ski workouts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and then progress to the day specific routines for variation.
Complete these routines from RunningDVDs.com after your regular running or roller skiing workouts on Wednesday and Saturday starting with part #1 and progressing to part #3 as your body adjusts and gains strength.
Have fun with these routines, they will be great addition to your program.