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What Is a Half Marathon Taper and How to Prepare

What Is a Half Marathon Taper and How to Prepare

January 18, 2024

Discover how to use a half marathon taper to prepare for your race. You'll find out when to start your taper, how to do it, and how your training benefits.

What Is a Half Marathon Taper and How to Prepare

 

A half marathon taper is a critical part of your training, and how you go about this portion of your training can make a huge difference in how you perform during your event. In the weeks leading up to your race, a half marathon taper allows you to give your body some rest but maintain your fitness level by reducing your miles. Neglecting to taper can lead to serious consequences regarding performance and your physical shape going into your event. Here is a description of what a half marathon taper is and how to execute it two weeks prior to your race.

 

What Is a Half Marathon Taper?

 

A half marathon taper is a stage of training that occurs in the few weeks before your event. This is a time when you decrease the training volume and reduce the stress on your body that you likely had during the heavier training blocks. The purpose of this period of time is to allow your body to recover from the bulk of your training as well as prepare for your event. This requires planning. Your training during this time period will be a bit easier and less time-consuming, but it shouldn’t be so easy that you lose the fitness you built up during the more intense part of your training.

ASICS Half Marathon Training stretching

Why do a taper?

 

Tapering allows your muscles to repair themselves and for you to get your body ready to perform at its best. Tapering is different from taking time away from training. You should be training still during this period, but it will be at a lighter intensity and aimed at preserving the gains that you made during training. This time is about maintaining the physical benefits of your training while allowing your body to be as recovered as possible and ready to perform at your best for the event. During the taper period, muscle tissue, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones return to a base level that oftentimes can be thrown off during intense training. Allowing yourself to reset before an event can have a great impact on how you perform.

 

There are also additional benefits of a half marathon taper. Tapering before a half marathon can:

 

  • Increase glycogen stores. Tapering allows your body to increase the stores of glycogen your muscles will need to perform well and be more responsive during your race. 
  • Reduce mental and physical stress. This period of lighter volume may make you feel more mentally relaxed and ready to compete, as well as make you feel better physically and more prepared to take on the challenge you’re approaching. 
  • Reduce the risk of injury and fatigue. Taking this period to reset the body will decrease the impact of training, and the recovery time will allow you to be more energized on race day.  

 

How Long Should a Half Marathon Taper Be? 

 

The typical taper period takes place for two weeks. This should be implemented any time your primary training period took place for 18 weeks or longer.

ASICS Half Marathon Training outfit

How to Do a Half Marathon Taper

Reduce your volume incrementally each week of this taper period. For example, you could reduce volume by 40% two weeks out and 60% one week before the event. Add shorter runs to your routine but maintain your racing pace for at least half of the run. If you normally run 8 miles, for example, cut it back to three to four miles the week before your race. Be sure to run the same number of times you normally do during the week, but make the distances shorter.

 

You may consider avoiding strength training the week before a race and eat the same diet you did during training so your body can be properly fueled for the activity that you’re about to participate in. This period of tapering should be at least two weeks, any shorter won’t allow you to prepare your body for the event, and you may not perform as well as you want.

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