A reader named Lynne had the idea for this week’s topic, which I thought was a great one all of us wonder about: “I find the 1-2 weeks before a race to be torture! You don’t want to run too much and have tired legs. You don’t want to run too little and feel out of condition. What’s the right balance?”
What do you think? — Terrell
I reduce mileage, pace a little faster than normal at shorter distances, but most importantly do everything possible to avoid minor or niggling pain and avoiding injury.
Great question. I've been asking myself that the last few weeks before my 50k.
I made the decision to run 4 days a week rather than 5 days a week.
I kept my long runs in place on the weekend, but did not jack up the mileage.
You're thinking about your race a lot more w 2 weeks left and you want to be at your best and injury free before race day.
Rest and nutrition is also a huge factor to any race training preparation.
Have fun, good luck and enjoy the experience!
Definitely reduce mileage. In a week or two, you won't really be losing fitness. This is when GOOD NUTRITION is extra important. You'll be running less, and you don't want to put on a few extra pounds before raceday by eating with reckless abandon. I'll also echo what everyone else has said so far. You DON'T want your legs to be tired before a race! Last year I didn't taper well for a race and underperformed and just felt so awful the whole race. This year with an injured ankle I didn't run AT ALL for TWO whole weeks before a hilly 10-miler but come raceday because I was well-rested, I felt fresh on those hills. You have to also listen to your body and consider your condition come taper time. Are you, like Stacy was, feeling some shin pain? Do you have a little nagging injury? Then it will profit you more to REST than to try to keep training. If you get the wiggles too much, maybe go for a walk. :)
It’s a great question. My personal experience in longer races (1/2 & Full) is that I have followed pretty strictly a published training plan. In the plan I have used it gives specific taper days. I have found them to be helpful. I definitely understand the urge to push it but think the taper works well. (Including days of zero miles) Now that I am on an extended streak it will be interesting to see how that plays out when a race approaches. I have a 10K Thanksgiving Day race but won’t probably do a 1/2 until next Spring.
This varies from person to person. What I have found to work best for me is I cut down my long runs by 50 % and increase speed workouts. Something else that works amazing for me is that I reduce the amount of food I eat to keep my body weight in race mode ( I normally drop about 0.5% of my body weight). This shifts my metabolism to gluconeogenesis mode which is great for race day. I ran a 2:30 marathon with two months of training by doing this. A day before race I slightly load up on cabs
I reduce my miles, and do just enough to stay loose, but not make my legs sore. No one wants tired legs at the beginning of a race.
BTW I am 62 years old so I am more attuned to avoiding injury like calf strains
I love the taper weeks! I enjoy (both mentally and physically) having only shorter runs after my last long run 2 weeks before the race. I view those weeks as the first reward for finishing my training, with the second reward being the race itself. The short runs are sufficient to stay in condition.
The taper is the hardest part of training, without a doubt!!! Stick to your training plan and say out loud "I got this, do it, it's a done deal". Every time a negative thought or emotion comes up, say it again and again. Mind/Body coordination and cooperation is crucial.
Agree! The focus for me one or two weeks out is to 1) Stick with the plan (1/2 or Marathon plan - Hal H. :) , 2) Stay hydrated 3) Don’t overeat (sounds easy but emotional eating is real - I check my weight daily :) 4. Stay relaxed (with your family, friend, significant other) and 5) Mental preparation is vital - visualize yourself at the finish line, feel the sweat, the medal around your neck, the people cheering you on... oh! Must have the affirmation. I’m alert, I’m alive, I feel great, etc. Good luck!
I followed Terrell’s beginner plan on this site for my first half and found the prescribed tapering to be perfect balance of rest and run. I really dialed in my nutrition the 10 days before and my race day experience was AMAZING. I felt great the entire time.
I think that's virtually an impossible question to answer. Every person is different, and every pre-race situation is different. It's hard to know where the balance between over-training and under-training comes in, especially for that taper period. It's tricky. My best advice (for what THAT'S worth...) would be simply to listen to your body. Do your miles at a slower pace for those last couple weeks prior to a race, cut your mileage but increase your pace... it's extremely hard to make a blanket statement for all runners for every race about how to train during those taper weeks leading up to races.
As an older runner of 63 I cut back 2 weeks before a half. I like to keep some intensity though. Also it works well for me to take completely off days 3 and 2 before my race day but I like to do a short run with a few pick ups the day before.
I have basically used the same strategy for both full and half marathons. I do my long training runs on the weekends. My last long training run is the week before. During the week I do not take any days off but limit the runs to 4-5 miles. I do not run the day before the event.
I have pretty much eliminated full marathons as a 65 year old runner but plan to do frequent half marathons. I just ran a half this past weekend and even in the pouring rain I had plenty of energy using the above method. I realize this may not work for everyone but it has worked in the past for me.
For a half marathon I limit myself to no more than a 5k on Monday and Wednesday for a weekend run. Then I often blow it by signing up for a “challenge” of some sort that has a 5, 8, or 10k on Saturday and the half on Sunday. That usually adds 2-3 minutes to my half time. The worst was last year’s Canadian Army Commander’s Challenge that had the 5k at 7:30 and the half starting at 9:00 on the same day. That left 1 hour and 4 minutes to taper for the half.
I have a half marathon tomorrow morning. This pass week have been in training out of state. I ran 6 miles Saturday, 1.6 miles tuesday and 1.5 Wednesday. So will let u guys know how it goes. I am from Texas and had to train in Kansas City. So this cold weather caught me off guard. My last half in October finished at 2:02.
This is a super relevant to me because today's Friday and next Saturday (so 8 days from now) I'm running a half marathon. Here's my plan:
Today I'm going to do my last long run of 13 miles.
Then I'll rest over the weekend. Starting on Monday I'll run 3 miles per day every day through Thursday. Friday I won't run at all. Saturday I run the half marathon.
Does that sound like a good taper to you guys?
I find the tapering to be the hardest part of the training. With that said I understand the reasoning and have seen/heard of others that have had to pull out of events because of health issues. I use this as part of my mental conditioning, and adding energy stores for the event. I believe it helped a little for my last event, but I still had an issue with energy near the end. I am now looking at my during event nutrition to see if that was my issue.
This is where I am now. I have a 50 miler next week in the mountains. I’ve tried to keep the miles up, but I think I may have strained my feet. PF?
I run with our local Fleet Feet training group. Our training plans include a taper period which how well I follow it depends on how I am feeling. I don't run more than prescribed in the plan but sometimes I run less. During the last few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon this fall I was battling a very sore right shin so I ran a bit less than what my plan called for, especially the week of the marathon. I skipped the last 2 runs entirely. On race day I had very little shin pain so I was thankful for that. If I'm feeling really beat up when taper time comes around I will also schedule a massage or 2, with the last one 3 or 4 days prior to race day. This strategy has worked pretty well for me as I have made it to raced day fairly well intact.
I don't know if I should really be commenting on this post because I've only run one 1/2 (this past October), but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. I tried my hardest to get up to running 13 miles before my race, but it just didn't happen. Time, fatigue, the list of reasons why could go on and on (we all know how this goes). Anyway, I ended up running the entire 1/2 without stopping and finished in 2 hours and 25 min. I was very impressed with myself because I don't think I properly trained for this race, and I was very worried that it was going to be very difficult for me. The most I'd run at once before this race was 9 miles, which is obviously not close enough to 13 miles! Don't get me wrong, the race wasn't easy but I did better than I thought I would. That being said, I did not run for 5 days before the race and I felt like it was the right decision for me. I'm running another 1/2 in February, and I honestly may end up 'training' the same way because it worked for me.
I have a half marathon in January in Orlando. I've done many 1/2's before, but this is my first in Florida and my first that starts at 5:30 in the morning (it's the Disney Winter 1/2). The week prior to the race I will be attending a business event with my husband in Key Largo, and the humidity is usually pretty wicked. In years past, I've run 2-3 days and biked the other days. There is a LOT of food and alcohol, however I always limit the alcohol and try to eat healthy. This time since the race is Saturday, no alcohol from Thursday till the race (very dehydrating). Does anyone have any tips to my training routine in the keys. I want to be fresh, but I also don't want to lose my groove.
so nice....good luck.