Taper [tey-per]; the reduction of exercise before a competition or race.

Tapering is reducing the volume of weekly training mileage during the final two to four weeks leading up to a marathon – which to runners, feels like a lifetime. 

What happens when you taper?

  • Tapering allows glycogen stores to return to peak levels in both the muscles and the liver.
  • Metabolic enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones, depleted during training, return to their optimal ranges.
  • Tapering leads to improvements in running economy (how much oxygen you need to run at a given pace) and muscle strength.
  • Muscle and connective tissues repair.
  • Tapering boosts the immune system.
  • Studies show tapering leads to improvements in performance between 2 and 8 percent!

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What really happens when you taper?

  • You realize tapering is just as (or even more) difficult as the rest of your training plan.
  • Remember all those times you said you didn’t want to go running or were too tired or didn’t want to brave the cold? – yeah, you’ll regret all those times.
  • Weight gain.
  • Feelings of worry, pressure to preform, hunger, self-doubt, and anxiety.
  • You will question your training constantly.
  • Phantom pains – you’re convinced that tinge of pain in your hip is actually a fracture.
  • Restlessness; too much pent up energy. You’ll also have sudden urges to cram in extra miles.


Survive and thrive. 

  • Trust your training. Doing too much during the taper period can leave you feeling exhausted and can hurt your performance. Your best bet for peak performance is to resist the urge to do more.
  • Start planning for your race:
    • Visit the race website to prepare for where you need to be and when, bus schedules, start times, expo information, etc.
    • Write lists – for everything! Organize the essentials you need for the race, travel, nutrition (look up restaurants in the area, organize your fuel, create a breakfast plan, etc.) and pick out your race outfit.
  • Glycogen storage requires significant water retention, so don’t be surprised if you’re up a few pounds. Better yet, don’t weigh yourself 1-2 weeks before your race. Having your body’s energy reserves at full capacity is worth the weight come race day.
  • When we run less, and worry more about our race, everyday aches and pains become exaggerated.
    • Try yoga, foam rolling, stretching or even schedule a massage to relieve any muscle aches.
  • R E L A X .
    • Build mental toughness by visualizing your race: the course, the scenery, the crowd… visualize any obstacles that may come your way.
    • Pray about your concerns/worries/fears and give it to God. 1 Peter 5:7
    • Memorize an inspirational quote, verse or create a positive affirmation/mantra to recite during the race.
    • Time for yourself – take a bubble bath, paint your nails, watch a good documentary on Netflix. You already put in the HARD work, reward your faithful training.
  • Hydrate! Keep water bottle with you at all times at least one week before the race. It can take several days to achieve proper hydration, so drink up.
  • Stay positive and remember: less is more.

Happy Tapering 🙂 Only 22 days until the Boston Marathon – Eeeeek!

More on tapering HERE.

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