Marathon Taper

Hi, it's my first marathon in Edinburgh in two weeks time. So far, I've made up the training myself, but could do with some advice on tapers.......I reckon I'm aiming foe a (just) sub 4 hour time. Thanks


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    ok so you should now be cutting down. Which is harder then it seems, your excited / nervous / impatient 

    any work you do now, will probably not improve your time in the slightest, but it could make you tired. I would say no hard sessions from now. Just plod along gently for 3 runs this week and maybe 2 in the last week. With a gentle walk maybe a day or two before the marathon.

    carb load 48 to 72 hours before the marathon to give you that extra bit of energy.

    good luck!!


    EDIT: no I'm not very experienced but I managed to get around two marathons and that's the sort of taper I did. 

  • That's great..I could do with a rest!  Thanks. I'm guessing that it's not easy to take it easy though!

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Slighty different perspective than booktrunk, I'd recommend cutting down the duration but not the intensity. For a three week taper you'd normally do 75%, 50%, 25% of your average weekly mileage in the three weeks before the marathon (i.e. the 25% week is the week of the marathon).  As you've only got two weeks and a weekend, you want to cut back the distance of this weekend's run to no more than 14 miles (assuming you've been doing 18 to 20 on previous Sundays) and then 60% next week followed by 20% the week after.

    If you normally do a speed session during the week, still do it but cut the distance of tempos or the number of intervals depending on the type of session.  This helps to temper any taper fever caused by the sudden reduction in running.


  • Thanks that makes sense. I'd been planning to go for a 22-24 mile run this weekend as I haven't got past 20 yet and this worrying me a bit. I feel I need to do this distance and then start cutting down.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    How long is it until Edinburgh ?

  • 2 weeks this Sunday and counting

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    To me that seems to close to do a 20+m run I don't know what others think bit personally I'd be lookin at around half marathon distance his weekend. But see what others say image

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    I agree with booktrunk - 20m+ runs shouldn't be done with two weeks to go.  An old rule of thumb is "no run should be longer than the number of days to the marathon" - so this Sunday should be no more than 14 miles.

    Most plans don't go beyond 20 miles, and a lot of entrants won't have gone this far in training.  With two weeks to go you need to relax and build your energy reserves (which is easy to say, but difficult to do)   

  • Thanks- my concern is that when I've done my long runs (2x 20 miles and 2 x 18) I've been sick. So, in my head, I feel I need a 22 at least to give me a sense that I can do it. What to do? Thanks for your input!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Personally I'd stick with running a half and no further. Believe me if it's hot you will want every ounce of energy you have save yourself. You've done 4 18+ runs you have traines pretty much perfectly, all you have to do is relax, and enjoy yourself.

    believe me another 20/22 won't matter just do a really controlled half. Concentrate on things like your breathing make sure you are incredibly relaxed and just think of it as plodding along as part of your marathon.

    i'm no expert but personally running a marathon is about staying in control of your body you just want to run wild in the early stages and it's slowing yourself down to a sensible speed then 28-32km is about telling yourself you do feel good. Then with 10k to go you start a new race.image this is the fun bit.image

  • Jim - if you had a background of high mileage / endurance  I would say the 22 would be a possibility as your ability to handle the mileage and to recover quickly would be goog, or at least you would be aware of the likely impacts / recovery. 

    I don't see that from the background you provided - there may be a small psychological benefit, but the physical impact on you at this stage would more than likely offset that benefit. It is time to wrap yourself in cotton wool, and get to the start line in the best condition possible.

    There are some muppets on here who would run 22 - 24m a couple of weeks out (me includedimage), but they probably have a big number of long runs behind them and will be aware of the recovery impact. It's a big risk on your 1st marathon; don't do it imho

  • OK that's really helpful. It's so tempting to go for it, but I'm starting to think that you're right. I think I've got the pre first marathon jitters!

  • .... and there is still time for plenty more jitters during the taper. Find a quiet corner, sit down facing the wall, and rock back and forwards image - I find the taper the most difficult part. You really feel that one more long and intense session will improve your performance on the day. Just hang in there, reduce the mileage, retain a bit of intensity in some of the runs and you will be fine.

  • Well, I did 20 yesterday. I know I shouldn't have, but it's the first long one I've done where I felt I could have gone on to do more without feeling ill. It was just the psychological boost I needed. So I can now rest and taper! Thanks for your help guys.

  • Hi Aloysius123 there is an Edinburgh marathon thread in 'spring marathons' that is quite active if you wanted to look at that forum. Good luck in Edinburgh. Do you have a time you are aiming for?

  • Hi, thanks for that. I'm hoping for anything with a number 3 at the beginning! We'll see, looking forward to enjoying the experience too...after all the hard work! Are you doing it yourself?


  • Also doing Edinburgh, my first shot at the full distance.

    I'm a bit worried about the taper stuff. I've been really happy with my training, my last 4 long runs were 18, 20, 22 & 20 (with two weeks to go) and I've been running at a pace I'm really pleased with on those runs too. I think I've given myself a real chance at under 4 hours which has been my 2nd target after just finishing the thing.

    So 2 weeks to go, started tapering. I'm planning on doing 10 miles as my long run this weekend and instead of doing 10 mile runs during the week, I'll be doing 6/7 mile runs this week and 4/5 mile runs in the week leading up to the day. So apart from perhaps short taper period (3 weeks seems to be the most common recommendation but quite a lot of guides say 2 so whatevs) it's all fairly standard, right?

    Anyway, I went out on my first 'tapered' run tonight, 6.7 miles. Haven't run that short a disance in at least 6 weeks. I felt like I barely broke a sweat and ran at probably the fatest pace I have in a long, long tme. I guess I'm just anxious that I'm going to lose fitness which I worked hard to gain. And I'm not supposed to run at a pace faster than I plan to run the marathon. Or am I? Argh! I'm panicing!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    If you barely broke a sweat then I guess it wasn't to taxing.


    you need to be comfortable... For you that might be really relaxed and lazy or short sharp sessions. the whole point is not to have tired legs, you want them fresh, nothing you can do now will make you better in your marathon, but if you put in to much work you can be more tired then you need to be. So basically run sensibly. 


    Your goal isn't to feel great on some meaningless mid week run, your goal is to be fresh, and fully trained for the day of your marathon. It's all about priorities really... That day is what matters you've put months of training in, so try to relax, and do what is comfortable and will not wear you out... Some do more then others, but it's all about having fresh legs On the day.

    you know your body better than we do, but don't hamper your chances of a good/great marathon by wearing yourself out in these two weeks. 

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