Are you preparing for a big race? With a few marathons around the corner I thought I’d share a bit of information about tapering your running distances before a race to improve your performance.


What is Tapering?

Tapering refers to the reduction of exercise before a competition or race. Leading up to an important race, it can be challenging to find the optimal balance between maintaining the best possible racing fitness and resting, which helps to reduce the fatigue of training. Tapering is essential for best performance and can take from as little to a week to three weeks.


How long should you taper?

When training for a half marathon it is considered best to taper two weeks before the race to help reduce accumulate fatigue.  After so much training, a lot of runners find it hard to scale back; others find it hard to get off the couch. But doing too much, or too little during this critical period can compromise the recovery you need to balance all your hard work.


The best way to reduce training?

Evidence clearly indicates that the key to effective tapering is to significantly cut back your mileage, but to maintain training intensity.  Reducing overall mileage has the greatest impact on lessening accumulated fatigue. The best way to reduce your mileage is to reduce the distance of your workouts substantially, but only moderately cut back on the number of runs per week. How much you reduce your mileage depends on your current training volume and the distance you will race.



Here is an example of tapering before a Half Marathon…

Two weeks out from race day

This stretch follows your final long effort (10 to 14 miles) on Sunday. Keep weekday workouts to 30 minutes. Some easy cross-training on non-running days is ideal, as long as the activity doesn’t make your muscles sore or has the potential to cause injury. It is also okay to skip a day on your non-running days if you’re not feeling like doing any exercise. End this week with a 45-minute run on Sunday.


One week out

Run for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. Then chill out or walk on Monday and Wednesday. Get a sports massage!


Two days out

Rest, or run very easy for one or two miles. Check the forecast, make a list, then pack your race bag.


The day before

Walk around the race expo or the staging area to get your bearings. Try to get decent rest, but don’t fret if you toss and turn and feel unrested – your human!


Race day

Arrive with plenty of time to spare before your race. Take a walk around as a light warm up, and find out where the start gate is. During the race, run a little slower than the pace you ran during your last two long runs. Pick up a little in the last third of the race if you’re feeling good.


Enjoy that final mile!! 🙂


Here at Comfort Health

If you need any further advice or to get booked in for your sports massage before the big race – Click Here and get your appointment booked in.