Tag Archive: marathon training

  1. Why ‘taper’ when training for a Marathon?

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    Training for a marathon is a rigorous and demanding process that requires a significant amount of physical and mental preparation. Having just completed the Paris Marathon myself I can say with first hand experience that a key aspect of marathon training that is often overlooked is tapering. Tapering refers to the gradual reduction of training volume and intensity in the weeks leading up to a race. In this blog, I will discuss why tapering is important for marathon training and how it can benefit your overall performance on race day.

    • Reduce Fatigue and Injury Risk

    One of the main reasons why tapering is essential for marathon training is to reduce the risk of injury and fatigue. During the training process, your body undergoes significant stress and fatigue as you gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. This can lead to muscle damage, inflammation, and other physiological changes that can increase the risk of injury.

    By tapering, you give your body time to recover and repair from the stresses of training, allowing you to enter the race with fresh legs and a reduced risk of injury. Additionally, tapering can help you to reduce mental and emotional fatigue, allowing you to approach the race with a clear mind and positive attitude.

    • Maintain Fitness and Improve Performance

    While tapering involves a reduction in training volume and intensity, it does not mean that you should stop training altogether. Rather, tapering involves a strategic reduction in training that allows you to maintain fitness while also promoting recovery.

    Research has shown that tapering can improve athletic performance by allowing for optimal recovery and peak physiological adaptation. By tapering, you allow your body to adapt to the stresses of training and to maximize its potential for energy production, oxygen uptake, and muscle strength.

    • Mental Preparation

    Marathon training can be physically and mentally taxing, and it is important to approach the race with a positive mindset. Tapering can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and to build confidence and mental toughness. By reducing the intensity and duration of your workouts, you can focus on maintaining a positive attitude, visualizing success, and mentally preparing for the challenges of the race.

    Example of a Tapering schedule:

    It’s important to remember that tapering is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the ideal tapering schedule may vary depending on your fitness level, experience, and training goals. Consult with a coach or trainer to develop a tapering plan that works best for your needs and abilities. I tried to taper over a three week period and followed something similar to the following:


    • Week 1: Reduce Volume

    During the first week of tapering, reduce your training volume by about 20-30% compared to your peak training week. This can include reducing your weekly mileage, the number of days you train, or the intensity of your workouts.

    For example, if you were running 50 miles per week during your peak training, reduce your mileage to around 35-40 miles per week. This will help you to maintain your fitness level while also promoting recovery and reducing the risk of injury.

    • Week 2: Reduce Volume and Intensity

    During the second week of tapering, further reduce your training volume by another 20-30% compared to week 1. Additionally, reduce the intensity of your workouts by focusing on shorter, easier runs and incorporating more rest and recovery days.

    For example, if you were running 35-40 miles during week 1, reduce your mileage to around 25-30 miles per week in week 2. You can also reduce the intensity of your workouts by running at a slower pace or incorporating more easy runs into your training.

    • Week 3: Maintain Fitness and Rest

    During the final week of tapering, focus on maintaining your fitness level while allowing your body to rest and recover in preparation for race day. This can include shorter, easy runs or even rest days leading up to the race.

    For example, if you were running 25-30 miles during week 2, maintain your mileage at around 20-25 miles per week in week 3. Incorporate a couple of rest days in the week leading up to the race, and avoid any strenuous activities that can cause muscle soreness or fatigue.


    And finally to my many friends and patients who are running the London Marathon – good luck!

    Ali Abbasian is a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon specialising in Foot and Ankle Surgery Рclick here to find out more  or get in touch