Marathon Guide | 7 Tips for the Perfect Marathon Taper |
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7 Top Tips For the Perfect Marathon Taper


You’re 3-4 weeks away from race day, you’ve got your last long run in the bag – it’s time to ease off and start your taper. Tapering allows you to rest, prepare, and allows the body to repair and replenish fuel stores after high intensity training, and hit the start line fresh, rejuvenated and in peak physical condition. Run your strongest race ever with our top tapering tips…

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1. Have a Dress Rehearsal

During your training and particularly your long runs, you should already have been practicing your race hydration and nutrition. Also make sure to have a dress rehearsal run wearing your race kit and race-day shoes and socks – the last thing you want during your race is distractions and irritations caused by your kit. This will help iron out any niggles and ensure you’re going in to your race feeling comfortable and confident.

2. Reduce volume, Maintain intensity

At this stage you’re in "the zone" and like most runners you’ll struggle with the thought of cutting mileage. Remember less is more during tapering - and don’t be tempted by last minute junk miles.

For your taper to be effective, research shows that you should progressively reduce your mileage by a minimum of 50%, preferably with no more than 40% max in your final week. Don’t take your foot off the pedal completely though – maintaining intensity during this period is shown to reduce the risk of "detraining," so keep on doing those tempo runs and intervals, while at the same time reducing mileage.

Never be tempted to cram in missed long runs during your taper period – this will only leave you fatigued on race-day, puts you at increased risk of injury and is in any case too late in the day to benefit your race performance.

water poored

3. Stay Hydrated

Being fully hydrated on race day is a must. Remember, it can take several days or even over a week to properly hydrate the body, and gulping down water the night before your race isn’t enough. Be conscious of hydration during tapering - some people even set an alarm as a reminder to hydrate regularly. Cutting down on alcohol during this period will also help your body re-hydrate more effectively.

person looking down

4. Don’t Try Something New

This is not the time to try out new running kit, shoes, workouts or nutrition – all things which can throw your training and race off track, and risk injury. Stick with what has got you this far, and focus on your plans for the race ahead.

5. Don’t slash the calories…

…but be aware that you aren’t burning as much energy. The purpose of your taper is to allow muscle fibres to repair after high intensity training and restock glycogen stores, both of which need energy. Continue to eat a well balanced diet combining protein and carbohydrates, as you have during your training, and gradually reduce calorie intake as you decrease your mileage.

This isn’t though a time to restrict calories for weight loss, so listen to your body during this period of repair, and if you feel hungry - eat. Don’t worry if you gain a couple of extra pounds after tapering - this is normal as part of carb loading as the body stores water with glucose.


6. Finalise your plans

Make race day as stress-free as possible. Make sure your travel and hotel arrangements are clear, and it’s never too early to pack your race kit. The last thing you want is the stress of searching for race numbers and instructions the night before a big race. Also, make sure you’re clear well in advance on race logistics; where you’ll start, where your pen is, bag drop-off and where you’ll meet up with friends and family after the race.

7. Treat Yourself

This a time of healing, repair and physical and mental preparation. Make sure to get adequate sleep, eat well, and continue to condition your body with foam rolling and light massage. You can also use this time to catch up with loved ones who may have felt sidelined by your training commitments. Look after your body and focus on your race, ready to hit the start line fresh, strong ,and in peak condition for the challenge ahead.

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