14 Mar The Joys of a Taper Week
So this weekend coming is the Eastleigh 10k. A pretty big event locally for those around Southampton.
It’s not the greatest course (personally, due to the views, but then who is looking at the surroundings during a 10k…! 😉 ) but it is quick and brings about a buzz at the start of the year as everyone looks to tick off their 10k personal bests!
But todays big question was:
“I’ve been reading about the need to taper for my main event but I’m not certain what I should be doing – can you give me some tips in your next email”
So, thanks for your message James, I’ll see what I can do 🙂
The taper, much like most subjects in sport is a complicated one and the answer depends on what you current ability is. But certain studies will state improvements of around 3% with a decent taper… so it’s worth considering!
For the experienced runner, a taper won’t look too different from a usual week of running – generally because they have a level of fitness which means recovery from runs is very quick. They could arguably run a hard session on a Friday and be fully recovered by the Sunday.
For the newer runners reading this, you may find that after a running session your legs still feel heavy for a couple of days afterwards.
So with this in mind, you need to have a think about when your last “hard session” will be. Usually a Thursday is early enough for the vast majority. But make sure that the amount of intensity is lower.
As an example, say your interval session has something like 6 x 1km efforts at 5k pace, the week of your taper, it’s worth dropping this to 3 x 1km, keeping the pace similar and giving yourself a touch more recovery between them.
Next: Weekly Mileage…
For the majority of runners this number should be lower than usual, but it doesn’t have to be a significant drop off. It depends what your big goals are – if you’ve got a marathon coming up, its probably worth keeping this number a touch higher. If the 10k is your primary target then definitely lower your weekly mileage.
Some will recommend halving this number, but again, this totally depends what your recovery rate is like. From my perspective, I’d rather see more frequent short runs than a handful of longer runs so that confidence is still high from keeping runs in the plan, but you aren’t fatiguing yourself too much on each run you do.
This is usually a marathon training subject – should I eat loads of pasta in the week leading up to a event?
Personally I don’t change my diet leading up to an event, if it works for every other training week and I perform well, why change it?
I might have a look at my food sources and make sure the day before I’ll get a few more key carbohydrates in, but if I know I have a long run on Sunday I’ll be doing this anyway.
How Long Should a Taper be?
Now this one depends on the distance of the event. For a 5k or a 10k I would have at least a week. For a marathon you should be looking at 2 weeks +… maybe even up to a month (your legs really do carry fatigue for a long time after those long runs).
I once heard an old wives tale about taking a days rest for every mile ran, so for example if your previously long run was 20 miles before a marathon, you should have 20 days of “easy” sessions before the marathon.
Post Marathon, you’d then schedule in 26 days of easy intensity before even considering another event.
I doubt there is much accuracy in this at all (I’ve not researched this so don’t shoot me down), but it does work quite well in making us think about how much rest we do really need.
Let me know how you found these tips, and if you have any questions you’d like answered, pop them in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll endeavour to get them answered asap.
P.S. If you are at Eastleigh this weekend – Good Luck! I’ll not be racing as its part of my taper week leading into the Cardiff Half Marathon next Saturday!
P.P.S. Training Plan design (including tapering) is something we will be chatting about at our New Forest Weekend too. This as well as a couple of great guest speakers which I’ll be announcing very soon – spaces are filling up quickly so click on the link to find out more:
Ant is the creator of RunCamp. Everyday his goals are to educate, motivate and inspire runners and triathletes to make themselves better than they were yesterday.
Running in his eyes is a journey, and through his coaching he aims to make everyone’s journeys more enjoyable.
As well as running, you’ll find Ant regularly taking part in triathlons, from sprint distance up to full Ironmans.
He also has a big weakness in the forms of Papa John’s pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so if you ever want to get an easier session, thats one way to get one!