If you are approaching the final weeks of training before your first marathon, you are probably thinking about how you will taper your runs in the final week before the race. It might be tempting to go all out with your marathon training and squeeze in one more long run, but that may actually be detrimental to your race day effort.
Use the last week of your marathon training (or even 2 weeks) to taper your training down so your body can recover and gain strength and reserves for the big day. Don’t stop running altogether, though, as you want to keep your muscles in the habit of running.
So what is the answer then? How should far and how often should you run in the week before a marathon? There’s a few factors at play.
How much do you run now?
A general rule of thumb is to reduce your run load to about a third of your usual volume in the last week. This keeps your body conditioned but not under stress. Your running style (typical distance, speed and frequency) will influence how appropriate this figure is for you. It’s a good place to start.
When should you stop?
It’s typically recommended to stay off the track the day before the marathon. Some elite athletes even take 2 days off completely prior to the run. Whatever you do, don’t schedule anything strenuous on those last couple of days. The aim is to get your body in peak condition, not trying to recover from previous training.
Don’t try to catch up or power through
Some runners fear they haven’t covered enough ‘long run’ miles and try to squeeze an extra one in close to the race. You’ll just end up depleted and vulnerable to poor performance on race day. It’s also difficult to perform well if you ignore tapering advice completely. A gentle reduction in training will see your best performance on the day of the marathon.
Marathon Training Suggested schedule
Sunday: run your final long run
Monday: take a short 5 mile run, go easy
Tuesday OR Wednesday: try some short interval training
Thursday: another short run, only 3-4 miles
Friday: short 2-3 miles or rest
Saturday: short 2-3 miles MAX – consider resting totally
Sunday: Race Day – good luck!
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