In the world of racing, one of the most misunderstood terms is tapering. The participant needs to be well-rested and in their prime form to set new personal records.
Tapering refers to gradual reduction. When applied to a race, it means that the racer is progressively reducing the workload as the event is approaching. If you are looking to understand more about tapering and how to implement it into your race preparation, then you're in the right place!
Tapering is an essential part of training for a marathon, when there is a specific time in mind. However, if you are running without a fixed time target, then tapering is not as important.
What Do I Need to Remember When Tapering for the Race?
There are certain factors to keep in mind when tapering for a race. Allow at least seven to 14 days between the final workout and the race day. The body needs some time to recover fully from the exercise.
Maintain the Intensity
Although you might be reducing the overall volume, keep a moderate amount of intensity in your workout to prevent flatness on race day. Now is the time when tapering would provide a balance, so you need to maintain the right balance in the workout intensity. It is the primary factor to consider for how to taper for your race and so you are prepared on the big day.
While maintaining your weekly workout schedule, if you are healthy and injury free, then certain situations might need additional rest. But if you are struggling with soreness or illness, then resting an extra day during tapering would help keep you in shape.
Recovery is Important
As you have extra time, always pay attention to recovery. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and invest some time doing foam rolling and mobility work.
Run the Same Number of Days
Instead of taking extra days off during the taper, we recommend that you reduce the volume on the days you usually practice. If you run 4-5 days a week, then stick with the schedule, and only cut the length of the run gradually.
Nutrition is Important
When it comes to taking part in sports events, nutrition is of prime importance. Make sure you have the healthiest diet for the race. Keep a particular focus on whole foods, and high-quality carbohydrates. Do not make dramatic changes in the weeks before your race. For a more in-depth look at nutrition, check out this nutrition guide.
It is here that you need to make running a challenge, and have a race-specific workout. It would depend on the training. For example, with a 5K race, you would need to do at least a 3x1 mile interval, while with a 10K you would need to do 6x1 or 3x2 miles. It will provide you at least 10-12 days between the workout and the primary race.
We recommend that you start reducing the volume slowly during this time. Cut the easy runs by 10-20 minutes depending on the length. For example, if you are running 12 miles, then cut it down to nine miles. The cutback can vary according to your experience level. However, remember not to run more than 10 miles before the main event. It is a crucial step for how to taper your race.
Mental toughness is the most overlooked aspect of any sports event, especially during the time of heavy training. Make sure that you utilize the extra time to plan a strategy and visualize how it would help you win the race. Consider the challenges and plan accordingly.
Tapering for a 5K or 10K race would take less time than a Marathon taper, which makes mental preparation necessary for execution. The tapering for a 5K or 10K requires a different strategy, as you need to improve the muscle tension in the legs. Encourage the muscles in your legs to contract more quickly and generate more force to run faster.
If you want to know about how to taper for your race during a triathlon, then follow the guidelines mentioned above to get to the finish line first!