Tapering for marathon

Tapering for marathon

I’m in Moldova this weekend for my friends’ wedding. Even though I took my running gear with me, there are quite a lot of hills here which are definitely good for leg strength. However, probably not a good idea with only 1 week to go before the marathon. I knew I wouldn’t have much time for running this weekend, so I did the long run already on a Wednesday (not Sunday, as usual), so I’ll do 1 or 2 easy short runs here only.

So, only a week left before the big day – quite exciting. First week of taper has already gone by and I am starting to feel that easy side of running again. It starts to return to being enjoyable again, compared to a couple of recent peak weeks where I don’t know what kept me running almost every single day.

I am progressively cutting the mileage now to give my legs the recovery they need by adding more rest days and reducing the run distance overall. I still keep the intensity during tempo workouts and strides during easy runs not to loose focus, though.

1 week until the long distance event is the critical time to get into best possible state and prepare correctly for the big day. It’s all about the proper recovery and fueling now. However, many misunderstand the concept of loading before the long event by simply overeating on the day before and feeling bad the next day. To break the news – that is not the way to do it.

First, it’s not all about carbs (even though they’re quite important). You also need to ensure that the amount of protein you intake over the last week is sufficient to help get over the accumulated fatigue from the training and allow proper recovery from the intensity which should be somewhat on par with the rest of the program even in the last week before the big day (key word is intensity, not distance). After that comes carb loading that should take place throughout final 2-3 days and not one pasta party before the marathon 🙂

To do it right, you need to consume enough protein throughout the marathon week (the rule of thumb is that 100g of protreins are minimum, regardless of your weight to help the muscles rebuild and recover) – aim to get 1.5 grams per kilogram of own body weight . Then, additionally, over the last 3-4 days you need to progressively include carbs into your nutrition plan to train the body not to rely purely on reserves. On the last day you should aim to consume up to 9-10g of carbs per kilogram of your body weight.

What’s even more important than loading is to remember to have your last meal by around 6-7 in the evening the day before the marathon. Your body need the time to digest all the nice food you’ve eaten in time, otherwise you’ll have the worst of sleeps.

On the race day the best strategy is to have a breakfast 3 hours before the start and then something sweet 20-30 minutes before the start. Everything you’ll eat during breakfast will digest properly before the start and something sweet before the start will compensate for the warmup and work well for you in the first kilometers of the run. Don’t eat too much on the race day, you don’t want to get the upset tummy feeling while you run.

Regarding myself, I am still not sure how to pace myself. I’ve run half marathon previously and there I was able to run almost all distance several beats below my lactate threshold. There were couple of places in the second half of the race where I got too excited and ran quite over the limit, which had quite a bad impact on the speed of the last few kilometers. But then again it was different – body stores glycogen in your muscles for around 2 hours of intense workout. As marathon obviously would take more time it is critical to pace yourself correctly and ensure that your body uses more fat for energy throughout the main part of the marathon. Even several seconds per kilometer too fast can result in minutes lost at the end. I guess I’ll just run by feel and see how it will go. It’s my first time, after all, I should enjoy the experience.

I’ll try not to drink too much wine this weekend 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *