Race Ready: tapering before your big day
Tapering before your race is essential for peak performance. And recovering properly post-race will have your body back to normal and back to training ASAP.
Taper Protocol: move but avoid extreme fatigue
With tapering, a cardinal rule is the rule of 75% -- you still want to move, but use only 75% effort, and spend only 75% as much time training as you normally would. This will allow your body to store reserved energy. We still want to move so your body produces the same amount of exercise-induced hormones; we will store that energy for speed on race day.
Your taper period will be different depending on the distance of your race. Here are some general guidelines:
- 5k/10k/15k: Start taper a week before race day
- Half Marathon: Start taper 10 days before race day
- Marathon: Start taper 2 weeks before race day
With a taper, fueling, hydration and sleep should also become priorities. Eat a little more with meals, make sure you're fully hydrated always (output should be nearly clear), and you should be sleeping at least 8 hours a night, especially between the critical hours of 10pm and 2am.
For Rachael's Runners Training Plan subscribers, here is a general guideline of how to follow workouts during the week before your race:
- Do workout #1 NO LATER than Tuesday. Again, keep effort at around 75% of normal, and cut the distance by 25%.
- For workout #2, complete NO LATER THAN noon on Thursday. Again, keep effort at around 75% of normal, and cut the distance by 25%.
- Do not do the third workout of the week -- and the day before your race you should be resting.
For the CrossFitters -- if you're still attending CrossFit classes during your taper, these are movements to avoid and their substitutes:
- NO high-rep air squats (cut the reps in half)
- NO box jumps (step-ups are OK)
- NO heavy deadlifts (use light weight)
- NO heavy back squats (use light weight)
- NO high-rep wall balls (use a lighter med ball and cut the reps)
- NO NO NO sled pushes
One last note -- if at any point in your taper you feel fatigued during a workout, stop and go home. It's not worth it. You should just feel like you're shaking off the rest, not that you're getting a full workout in. And don't be surprised if you feel a little antsy -- that means the taper is working.