Marathon taper

Just as it should have been warming up for the longer runs, it got colder than ever. Now all the hard work is done but you have the delicate job of getting the taper right. Thanks to the unusual conditions everything may not be straight forward, so here are my key tips for getting through the important final weeks before the race.

Prepare for a little heat

You can almost guarantee that the first hot sunny day of the year will be marathon day and you need to be prepared for it. Not just for the sake of your performance, but in extreme cases your health. Here are some cross-training session suggestions to get you used to the heat so you're fully prepared for the big day:

Spin classes

Interval sessions on a bike have good carry over to running and these classes tend to be in relatively small crowded rooms where the temperature and humidity can get pretty high. Joining a few of these classes could be just the thing to help prepare you for a warmer race day.

Bikram yoga

Hot yoga classes will help your mobility and control while getting in 90 minutes of exercises in 40 degree heat. They tend to be packed so the humidity is also likely to be high. There are normally very cheap introductory deals that you could take advantage of, too.

Alter-G

These advanced treadmills are becoming more widely available and are an effective way of allowing your legs to recover from hard training while maintaining fast turnover, normal pace running. If you leave the fan off, it gets hot!

Stay healthy

Don’t take too many risks with your health. A cold now would be as devastating as a serious injury. Even a very mild cold would still affect your running for a number of weeks. From personal experience, the two most important things that you can control are sleep and hydration.

The value of sleep can’t be over-estimated. Getting plenty of sleep in the lead up to the race will help your body to recover from the stress it has been put through during training, while a lack of sleep will leave you run down and vulnerable to picking up anything that's going around. Importantly, plan for an early night the Friday before the race as Saturday night may be a write-off. Don’t get too distressed if this happens as it is normal and the excitement before the race can contribute to a good performance.

Hydration is important for a lot of reasons, including fighting off infection. Start to pay more attention to increasing the amount of water you are drinking in the lead up to the race. 

Nutrition

By now you should have worked out what works for you so don’t deviate wildly from what you've been doing. From something as simple as a big pasta meal on the night before the race leaving you feeling bloated, to trying a different flavour drink or gel at the water stations leading to stomach cramps, now is not the time to experiment. The best advice I can give is to stick with what you know.

What else to look out for

During the taper you will get anxious and fixate on every little niggle that comes along. During your training you will have developed areas of tightness but the act of getting out and running will have loosened things up and helped to maintain your mobility. Now you are not moving so much these stiff or sore areas will start to be more obvious. Look to get a couple of massages and spend some extra time on stretching.

The other temptation during the taper is to squeeze in some extra training. You aren’t going to significantly increase your fitness, but will risk leaving yourself fatigued. The goal now is to reach the start line feeling fresh and confident.

Now that the work is done, the taper gives you the chance to take care of the details. Work out your routines, organise your kit and get excited about raising money for your charities and attacking your goals. It will be one of the most amazing running experiences of your life! So best of luck and see you at the finish.

Find out more about Scott here.