Tapering. What is that exactly?
For me, it meant the big day of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2016 was looming but also the hardest part of my training was done. I felt relieved – but also apprehensive. The next really long run I did would be THE run.
I remember hitting Twitter and asking my tweeps for advice as I had no idea what tapering for a marathon meant. Two weeks before my big day I was told I should do a half marathon distance. What? I’d done my longest run ever of 22 miles only a week before. 13miles?! Are you serious?
As an international athlete, my tapering was doing 200m repeats on the track, easy 30-minute recovery runs and stretching sessions. Same principle – less distance, easier running, time to stretch and recover.
Tapering is all about taking your foot off the gas and hitting ‘cruise control’. (I’m still not convinced running 13 miles falls into either category but there you have it).
Tapering is about taking time to just get your body prepared.
Stretching, maintaining your core stability, gradually fuelling your body with the right food and preparing your kit (aka buying more safety pins).
Your body may be under less pressure but your mind is now cranking up, completely consumed with the big day. I spent my time constantly asking questions (mainly, repeatedly, ‘Have I done enough training?’), checking the information in my race pack, reading on social media what other people were doing (some helpful, some worrying).
From all this, here are my Top Tapering Tips if you’re getting ready to run the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: I hope they help you.
- Keep to your plan. What’s done is done now: relax about it – or you’ll ruin it.
- Think carefully and calmly about the big day: check the clothing you intend to wear, set out warm up clothes and items that you can discard before you start.
Make a list of what you need to take with you for race day. Here was mine:
- Trainers, compression socks, shorts, vest, sports bra, race number (sometimes picked up at the Expo before race), bag (for the truck that takes your kit to the end point), safety pins, hydration and rehydration drink, Imodium, anti-chaffing powder or stick, more safety pins, music, earphones, watch, wine gums. And chocolate!
- Don’t forget this was my list: think ahead of what you need.
- Build in yoga or general stretching – try a little every day. I found this really helped to relax and prepare my body
- Run on grass for a few of your last short runs to take the pressure off your legs.
- Stick to what you know – don’t change anything now despite what you might read or hear from other runners.
- Be sensible to avoid injuries – now’s not the time to try a new fitness class or routine, take the escalator two steps at a time, lug heavy boxes around or push for a parkrun pb.
- Get to bed a little earlier as often as you can — ‘bank’ those sleep/recuperation hours to boost your recovery and ensure you’re well rested.
- Pat yourself on the back to have got this far.
My next post will be about the big day but for now don’t panic, be smart, train easy, eat well and avoid possible injuries.