Three weeks to go to the 2013 Dublin Marathon. Time to taper!
This week I’ll be chopping a third off my weekly mileage. There’ll be no long run either. I’ll still go out five times this week, but only for short, light runs to keep ticking over.
Next week, a fortnight before the race, I’ll reduce my mileage again. Finally, on the week leading up to the marathon, I’ll do only a couple of short runs.
Why am I doing this? Because my priority now is to get into the best physical and mental shape for race day. I’ve had a good, hard summer of training – in fact, I’ve been training hard for almost ten months, from my Christmas morning run through my Daniels’ Red Intermediate Plan on the track in spring.
And on top of my training, this summer I ran hard in three events, with a new personal best in each one: the Frank Duffy 10 Mile, the Marathon Talk Magic Mile and the Dublin Half Marathon. I need to recover.
I’m looking for a P.B. in the marathon too. The taper period is an acknowledgement, however reluctant, that my serious work is done – this is the training that I’m bringing to the start line on 28 October. I’ve got to trust my training and not panic myself into throwing in more hard miles and long runs.
Other runners may have different objectives for the marathon – perhaps not a P.B. but a comfortably good time while ensuring they finish, perhaps running for charity or with a group of friends. Fair enough, but even if you won’t be hurtling around the course on race day a taper will still give you the best chance possible to avoid injury and have a safe and enjoyable marathon experience.
A taper isn’t a licence to stop running completely, of course. My mileage reduction is gradual – enough to ensure I keep my form and stay fresh while I replenish my stock of energy.
As well as a period of recovery, the taper is also a time to attend to those niggles and aches we all pick up. In particular, knee and Achilles tendon problems deserve special care – during your taper you can afford to rest up for a few days to see if the pain goes away, and if not you have time to visit a sports physio.
Good luck with your taper!