With two weeks to go until the Gold Coast Marathon on 6-7 July, it’s important to strike a balance between keeping up your training and resting your body for peak performance on race day. Tapering is when you cut back on your training in the weeks leading into the race, allowing your body to absorb the gains from your training. During this period, your muscle glycogen stores are replenished and hormones, enzymes and antioxidants can return to their normal ranges without the added stress of high intensity training.
Those who taper before race day are more likely to run faster and achieve a PB. With two weeks to go, your body will not have time for fitness gains, so the goal of tapering is to minimise fatigue, rather than achieve additional adaptations.
Mentally, tapering can be hard to do, especially when you’ve got the clock ticking and the urge to make up for lost time by increasing mileage before the big day. But rest assured, research shows that cutting back on distance, resting more and eating well two weeks out is the best course of action.
To taper effectively, two weeks out from race day, aim to run 75% or less of your normal week’s mileage. The week before the event, drop your training down to half of your normal training distance but at a slightly quicker than race pace and allow your body to rest the day before.
During this time reduce or completely remove any cross training or alternative exercises to allow your body to freshen up fully. Pay close attention to your diet, slightly increasing protein two weeks out to allow for muscle repair and then increase complex carbohydrates like rice, pasta, whole grains and legumes the week before. Drink lots of fluids and aim to reduce caffeine and alcohol the week before. A couple of days before, make sure you have your race day clothing, shoes and nutrition sorted so you can mentally focus on your race.
Remember the golden rule of successful preparation is not to try anything new just before race day! Your goal for the next two weeks is to do everything possible to allow your body to rest and absorb your training efforts and get organised so that you are well prepared for race day.
Steve Moneghetti is a four-time Olympian, Commonwealth Games gold medalist, ASICS Half Marathon winner and Gold Coast Marathon ambassador.