Tapering is a common running term for the final phase of training before a race, when you want to bring yourself to peak physical condition.
Here’s how to taper off your training effectively and responsibly, so you’ll appear at the starting line in optimal shape.
For a marathon or long-distance trail race the tapering phase usually starts a few weeks before, but for shorter races the final week is the important one.
The general rule is to reduce your running volume and intensity while maintaining your speed work. In other words, you want to spare your body and save all your strength for the race, but at the same time you want to keep up your speed.
• Rest well. Pay particular attention to resting in this phase. Your body needs the time to recover and heighten the training effect of your active sessions. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, too.
• Do what you can. You may feel that high-paced training is difficult in this phase, but don’t be disheartened: your body is tired from all the training. Just do what you can and then rest.
• Work on your focus. During these last sessions, train yourself to stay focused even when you are tired. You will need this skill to race well.
You may also want to use the tapering-off phase to improve your diet. Chances are you’ve already started living healthier during your training plan. But in the last phase before your race, consider taking some extra measures. Giving up junk food and alcohol completely in this phase will really pay off on race day.