Who doesn’t like a great taper? Three weeks before your marathon, the ‘leg work’ is done. Literally. Now it is time to sit back and coast to the starting line, right? The decrease in weekly mileage affords our body time to rest, rebuild and restock. Our taper is a luxury we earned, but our work is not done quite yet.
This is not the time to skimp on sleep. I will be the first to plead guilty to staying up later. It seems logical with shorter and less strenuous workouts to have additional energy. Stay healthy and find a way to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep.
Your weekly mileage will decrease after your last long run. To get this far along in your training a taper must be in the plan. Be safe and smart. Remember during this time you already completed your distance work. My mom (3 time Boston Marathon qualifier/runner) always reminds me that endurance lasts longer than speed. Her theory agrees with Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Basically, they say that a high-intensity taper is a great strategy for middle and long distance runners. A high-intensity taper consists of short, intense runs. The body is able to recover from the intense runs and maintain your fitness level.
It is easy with reduced mileage to put on a little weight. I remember reading that every pound of body weight adds 7 pounds of pressure to your knees. I am not sure if I got that fact exactly correct, but you get the idea. Do not diet, but eat smart. This is the time to energize and fortify your body. Rebuild your glycogen (think cornflakes, quinoa and apples) and eat healthy. This Livestrong link has a ton of info on glycogen replenishment: http://www.livestrong.com/article/535616-glycogen-recovery/.
It is imperative during this time that you continue stretching. I also recommend a sports massage one to two weeks before the race. You will need recovery time after a deep tissue massage, so plan ahead. Best to avoid inside of 3 days of race day.
Once you are ready to start pulling everything together make a list. It is very easy to overlook something as obvious at your beloved shoes. I’ve seen it happen! After your gear is organized, take a long look at the logistics of the race. Look at the most mundane detail, like the date. A race could be on a Saturday and not a Sunday like your last race. Also seen this happen! Two nights before the race be sure to relax, have a stress free night and get to bed early! This is the night of sleep that will run the marathon. I am up every hour the night before a race
Congratulations on making it to the taper! Enjoy the next few weeks and best of luck in your race!