When it comes to the subject of tapering, running coaches will often say “the hay is in the barn”. What they mean is that there is very little you can do in the final weeks to become a faster runner intrinsically, but you can ruin your chances of running at your full potential by messing up the taper phase. Correctly tapering for a goal race can lead to a 2-8% improvement in race time. You can read the science behind this all over the internet. In that past, I have written about the madness that is the taper ; as I taper for the Richmond marathon, let’s revisit and dig a little deeper into this important training phase.
This blog post is nearly two years old, but I thought I would republish it for some friends who are racing this coming weekend. Sometimes taper is the hardest part of training. I managed a 21 minute marathon PR after this particular piece was written.
Runners do this thing called “taper” in the weeks leading up to goal endurance race. Tapering is essentially a decrease in weekly miles run that allows for repair of muscles, storage of extra glycogen, and amply recovery before race day. It has been shown to increase performance somewhere between 2-8%, depending on how the tapering is done. The most effective tapering plans take into account a runners peak mileage, the length of the race, and the runner’s experience and goals. Plans that decrease intensity along with mileage have been shown to be far less effective than those that decrease mileage but maintain intensity.
But, all that said, that is not really what this post is about.
This post is about Taper Madness. It’s about what happens to your brain on taper.