Right before an event many training plans will include a few weeks at a lower intensity. This is referred to as a taper week, and is really quite important to keeping your legs fresh for the event. The taper will help your muscles rebuild from the training, but isn’t too long that you start to loose any fitness. Typically during a taper week you’ll still be running but not at the intensity that you have been previously.
During this phase of training it is very important not to do too much. The whole purpose of this is to give you time to rest in order for you to give your all to the event. If you are feeling restless here’s a few ideas on what you could do during this period.
- The stretches you’ve been putting of
- Read a book about running
- A low intensity fitness class
- Resting up
- House chores you’ve been putting off due to training
- Core strength work
- See some friends
When running at this point in your training it should be at an easy pace. There should be no interval or tempo sessions too close to your race. You don’t want to be creating muscle soreness as this will create heaviness within your legs when you’re running afterwards. Going into a race with fresh legs will give you a little bit more confident about your potential.
Tapers can also make you feel nervous though. Like you’re not doing enough to get to your goal. There isn’t really much that you can do to get around this feeling. Doing something though can help, even if that is just getting outside to got for a walk. Resting as a runner is one of the hardest things to do, even when you’re injured. Don’t worry though.
Following your plan at this point is important as well as eating as you normally would. Do not restrict your calories at this point in your training. Just because you aren’t exercising as intensely or as much as you would be, does not mean you should reduce your food intake. One reason for this is that you’ll need to stock pile a little to give you the energy for your big effort. Secondly, your body will use this additional energy to help it repair muscle damage that the training as caused, aiding the recovery process.
Tapers aren’t usually too long, 1 to 3 weeks before the event. Longer tapers will be in place for longer events, or those who are slightly newer to exercise. This period of time isn’t very long, but will feel longer as you go on and find yourself increasingly restless. At the end of the phase you will be stronger though, as muscles actually only gain strength during rest.
What do you do during your taper?