How to Taper Before a Marathon

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Tapering before a marathon refers to cutting back on the training during the few weeks before the marathon date, which helps the body recover from training. Taper off training slowly for better chances of completing a marathon with advice from a competitive runner in this free video on running marathons.

Part of the Video Series: Marathon Training
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Beth Kaufman, and I'm going to talk about how to taper for a marathon. So tapering is probably the most critical part of your marathon training after those long runs. So tapering, all that means is cutting back on your training. So you're going to want to cut back on both the miles that you're running per week, and the intensity that you're running per week. The taper for a marathon should start about two weeks prior to the marathon. And that just depends on your level of expertise. A beginner will definitely want to do at least two weeks. If you're a little bit more of an expert, you could suffice with seven to ten days of a taper. So, that first taper week you'll want to cut the amount of miles you run by about sixty percent, so if you were running forty miles a week the previous week, you'll want to cut out about twenty four miles from that, so that leaves you about sixteen miles for that week. And then you'll want to cut another twenty percent or so from that. So that final week before the marathon, you'd only run maybe eight to ten miles. About two nights before the marathon, you'll probably want to just completely rest, and that means no running or a very light workout, which, I would recommend some sort of cross-training just to kind of keep the blood flowing and to also keep you kind of mentally involved with being physically active. Along with tapering comes important nutritional advice. You'll want to make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. So drink plenty of water that week before a marathon, and especially a couple days before. Make sure not to drink too much water, or else you could have hyponatremia, which just means that you have low amounts of sodium because you have too much water, which can be fatal. So, make sure that what you're consuming that you have some salt in there, such as Gatorade or Powerade will help negate any possibility of having any type of problems with too much water in the system. Along with tapering, make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep, so aim for eight to ten hours per night. And I know the night before a marathon, you're going to be pretty excited. It's going to be very hard to sleep. The most important night to get sleep is two nights before a marathon, so if you're racing on Saturday, you'll want to make sure that you get the best sleep that Thursday night. The morning of the marathon, just loosen up those legs a little bit. Go for a short five to ten minute jog. Get the blood flowing. Do some easy stretches, but don't do anything out of the ordinary. Other things that are very important with tapering. Make sure you don't try any new foods during that week. Don't try anything new during the marathon, so only run that marathon with foods you've been eating during your training. Also, do not buy and wear a new pair of shoes unless you have six weeks before the marathon. You never, ever, ever want to buy new shoes a couple days before a marathon. I guarantee you, you will have blisters. So it's very important to taper starting about two weeks out and slowly cutting back on the amount of running that you're doing and the time that you're doing for each run, and slowing down each individual run. And as you taper, tapering guarantees that your body gets enough rest to be able to run that daunting 26.2 miles. So again, these are just some tips and suggestions on how to taper and thus be able to run a very successful marathon.


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