The right taper not only before a half marathon or marathon can affect your performance but also in a 5k or 10k race.
In this blog post, you will learn what tapering is, why it is necessary before an important race, and how to properly taper.
What is Tapering
A lot of runners don’t understand tapering or incorporate it in their training, because they don’t know all the benefits of tapering.
Tapering is a training term referring to the last step in the training plan for a race.
Tapering is the reduction of the training load before the competition to reduce fatigue and maintain the positive effect of the training. This approach helps to reach the level of supercompensation to show the maximum in the race.
Use our split calculator to create the right strategy for your race from 5k to marathon
Types of tapering
There are several types of tapering:
- Linear Taper
- Exponential Taper (slow and fast)
- Step Taper
Why Tapering is Important to Include in Your Race Prep
During the taper, the immune system improves and the athlete’s muscle strength is strengthened. Glycogen levels, antioxidants, and hormones return to their optimal levels.
In addition, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise studies have shown that a good taper increases your productivity by 3%, which is equivalent to 5-10 minutes of a marathon.
How Long do I Need to Taper for
Taper depends on the race distance:
- 5k – 10k: 7 – 10 days
- Half Marathon: 10 – 12 days
- Marathon: 14 days
Marathon tapering examples based on experience level
|LEVEL||AVERAGE MILEAGE IN TRAINING||TAPER TIME||% DECREASE IN MILEAGE||AVERAGE TAPER MILEAGE|
|BEGINNER||30+ miles/week||3-4 weeks||30-40%||20 miles/week|
|INTERMEDIATE||40+ miles/week||3-2 weeks||20-30%||30-35 miles/week|
|ADVANCED||50+ miles/week||2-1 weeks||10-20%||45 miles/week|
How to Properly Taper for Race
The main element of tapering is the reduction of training mileage by 20-60% from the usual level. You can achieve a reduction in mileage by reducing the time of an individual training session or by reducing the number of training sessions.
It is preferable to reset by reducing the time of individual training sessions while maintaining the total number of training sessions per week. Reducing the number of training sessions per week does not give a significant improvement in fitness during the “taper” for the main race.
Training in an intensive mode maintains adaptive capabilities at the required level and helps develop a sense of competitive rhythm.
TRAINING LOAD ↘
TRAINING VOLUME ↘
TRAINING INTENSITY →
TRAINING FREQUENCY →
Tapering is a reduction in weekly mileage, but not intensity. The only thing you should do is reduce the overall duration of the speed work: make 3 intervals instead of 5, for example.
Еxample Taper one week
|BEGINNER||Speed work at 40% less intensity for 20-30 mins||2-3 miles at goal race pace||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility, foam rolling)||30-40 min aerobic run (heart rate below 160 bpm)||Strength training + 100 m strides or 2-3 mile tempo run||4-5 miles at 50% reduced effort||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility foam rolling)|
|INTERMEDIATE||Speed work at 30% less intensity for 30 mins||4-5 miles at goal race pace||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility, foam rolling)||40-60 min aerobic run (heart rate below 160 bpm)||Strength training + 100 m strides or 3-4 mile tempo run||5-6 miles at 50% reduced effort||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility foam rolling)|
|ADVANCED||Speed work at 20% less intensity for 30-40 mins||6-8 miles at goal race pace||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility, foam rolling)||50-60 min aerobic run (heart rate below 160 bpm)||Strength training + 100 m strides or 5-6 mile tempo run||6-8 miles at 50% reduced effort||Rest Day: active recovery (mobility foam rolling)|
To correctly observe the reduction of training load, you must also pay attention to nutrition and recovery.