Taper Time

As part of Marathon Month, performance trainer and movement coach Si Tate joins us with expert advice on the final two weeks before running a marathon.

The 17th of April marks a significant date for many British runners, it’s 'The Big One'. Yep, that’s the date of my first BBQ of 2011… I believe that a few of those not lucky enough to be invited to this prestigious event will be consoling themselves with a 26.2 mile jog around London that day too.


Whether you’ve been pounding pavements in preparation for the Virgin London Marathon, trudging trails training for the Heritage Coast Marathon, or building up your miles for any of the many other Spring 26.2 milers happening across to UK this month, you should now be at least close to reaching the taper period of your training.


Tapering is recommended for anyone training for a marathon, from elite athletes to first timers. It’s where you take an amount of time, normally take the last two weeks before the race, to scale back your training so your body can rest and recover well enough to perform at its best on the day.


“Calm Down, Calm Down”

Wherever you hail from, you’d do well to heed this Liverpudlian phrase pre your marathon. Imagine the marathon is a storm brewing – so now should be your period of calm before it kicks off.  During your taper period you want to keep your runs short and the intensity low, anything else is only going hamper your body’s preparation and increase your risk of injury or illness.


Anything done in the last week or two before your race is going to have little or no bearing on your performance on the day. (So hard training now would make as little sense as missing out on my BBQ!) Even with your short runs, if you notice a niggle or or are feeling under the weather, don’t try and man-up and run, just take a rest day and leave your training for when you feel like you’re in a suitable condition.


A Change Is Not Always As Good As A Rest!

At any time, running whilst injured is not a good idea. Not only because it’s painful and could worsen your injury. It alters the way you move as you run and so puts excess strain on other muscles or joints. Right now you don’t want change anything about your running, so the same goes for new shoes or making tweaks to your running style, anything you haven’t been doing in your training should be avoided.


If you are having injury issues, kinesiotape can help get you through the marathon (that coloured tape Gareth Bale wears). You’ll need an experienced trainer to show you how to use it properly, Faster Fitness coaches, who specialize in biomechanics, are your best bet.  


Stretch… Really?!

Being the shrinking violet that I am, I always avoid controversy but… I know many recommend that you need to do as much stretching as possible in the weeks before the marathon. I really don’t agree with this. True, you need to keep good range of motion around your joints, but I’d advise that you do some running specific mobility work such as some dynamic stretching or some mobility pivot exercises, like the ones demonstrated in this video.





Eat well, prepare well

The week before you’re going to need to eat plenty of proteins and carbohydrates as your body gets ready for the marathon. So I’d stock up on plenty of meat, fish and fresh vegetables and get ready to eat! As a personal preference, I’d try stay away from grains (i.e. breads and pasta) eating carbohydrate rich foodstuffs such as sweet potato instead.


As a final tip, I’d recommend you take a supplement containing Omega 3 oils. This will ensure good joint health and it will also combat inflammation.


So, for those of you missing out on The BBQ in favour of a marathon, I wish you the best of luck. If you have any specific questions, you can email me pt@sitate.co.uk and I’ll see what I can do.

For more info and to book a training session with Si Tate visit: www.sitate.co.uk



Now add your taper tips or ask for advice via the form below.


Some really great advice here



Can I come to the BBQ? Im not in the marathon!! Hopefully next year though!!!