Tapering is awesome! Why? Because it means you are coming out of your plan and focussing on the big event, everything you have worked hard towards is in sight!
There are many ways to taper and some say 2 weeks is optimal, others 3 weeks but I think a lot comes down to personal preference and how your training has gone. Personally I like a 3 week taper as I love for my body to catch up with itself.
One important thing to remember when tapering is that your body likes routine and if you add too many rest days it is possible to feel sluggish by race day. Ideally you want to maintain the frequency of your running, if you normally run 4 times a week, run 4 times a week in the weeks just the reduce the volume of these runs.
My longest run is 4 weeks out from race day. This is around 20 miles with an element run at Marathon pace. My next long run will be around 15/16 miles. Then with two weeks out it will be 13 miles. One week before will be a very nice easy 10k without my watch!
I like to use these final weeks to sharpen up slightly with a couple of shorter faster sessions and even a 5k parkrun a week out from race day is not a bad idea. For me anything that gets my legs engaged over the shorter distance defiantly helps, I just have to remember not to chase a PB!
Getting loads of sleep is a real winner when tapering. Your body adapts to training and releases crucial growth hormones in the deep sleep phase of your sleep. I try and eat a little earlier in the evening and aim to get a bit of extra sleep especially in race week.
Maranoia is a real thing! In the weeks leading up to your race you will be worrying about everything and doubt will set in but don’t panic this is totally normal and you just have to be aware that Maranoia is a real thing! You will get phantom injuries and will be extra paranoid about germs! Just relax, trust in your training, eat and drink well, rest and try and spend some time off your feet and you will be just fine!
The week leading up to the Marathon I tend to do two very slow runs with my last on the Thursday. I do this really to shake off any rust and nerves and remind my legs that have a job to do! Take your time to get your kit ready and check your travel details for race day and then relax. Snack regularly throughout the day and remind yourself of all the positives from your training. Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint!