Thursday, February 20, 2014

Taper: The Downward Slope

Every marathon runner's favorite mammal
This is Week 10 of my 12-Week Training Plan provided by elite coach Andrew Kastor for the March 9 ASICS LA Marathon, and it also is the week that started our taper. I recently shared Coach Kastor's mental tips for marathon success, and with his kind permission I am pleased to relay the insightful advice he just shared today with the ASICS LA Marathon Blogger team on how to taper and finish in style. His words:

Now it is time to enjoy the marathon taper. What is "the taper," you ask? Well, it’s basically the last two to three weeks of your training program when you train less and rest more in preparation for your big race. Every great marathon-training plan has a taper phase -- of which the most common and effective length is 3 weeks. During this time you will allow your body to fully recover from the mental and physical demands of marathon prep by training less and resting more. This week's training volume should be about 20 percent less than last week's.

Things to keep in mind during your last 3 weeks of training (aka, the taper phase):

  • Avoid extremely hilly courses. We've already done plenty of hill training during our Saturday morning training runs, so you should feel confident sticking to flats from here on out.
  • Keep your caloric intake the same. Even though you're training less, that doesn't mean you should start eating less, too. You should actually gain weight (1 to 3 pounds) during the marathon taper. But don't freak out! This extra weight will consist of water (as you are not sweating as much), glycogen (sugar/carbs stored in your body), minerals and a little fat -- all of which will be used to get you to the finish line on race day.
  • Stay off your feet as much as possible. Rest your legs at any chance you get.
  • Hydrate well. Minimize your coffee and alcohol consumption, as they both can dehydrate you. By running less, you will have more energy, and if you drink a minimum amount of coffee, you will be able to sleep better at night and keep your body on a healthy cycle.
  • Be positive. Hang around positive people who are encouraging and supportive of your training and upcoming marathon.
Happy Tapering!

Coach Kastor is an elite coach in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and former 15-year competitive runner. His wife Deena Kastor is the Olympic medalist and holder of numerous U.S. women's records including marathon and half-marathon. Follow @CoachKastor and @DeenaKastor on Twitter. You can follow me @Marathoner.

How do you approach your own taper and what works best for you?

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