Saturday, October 25, 2014

How To Taper For Your Next Marathon

Finishing stretch at the Singapore marathon from Flickr
Are you getting ready for your next marathon? Ever wondered how elite runners do their taper? Well, here's a sneak peak at what elite British middle and long distance distance runners did when they were preparing to compete at the 2012 London Olympics. (800 m to marathon runners were included in this study, but this post will discuss marathon tapering strategies only).

Average best male time for the marathon were 2:15:46 while the women had an average of 2:31:54 hours.

During normal training, he marathoners averaged 100 miles a week over 12 runs. Majority of the runs (94 miles or about 150 km) were of various distances at slow to moderate pace. The runners did one real quick interval session of 6 miles (or 10 km) such as 6 x 1600 m.

During their 2 week pre marathon taper, these runners did just 7 runs a week, totaling about 53 miles (or 85 km), reducing their mileage by almost 50%. They still did one interval session of about 4 miles (6.4 km), i.e. reducing interval mileage by about 33 %. This suggests they needed to maintain their speed while cutting excess mileage to rest.

During normal training, regular runs were 16 % slower than their marathon pace while intervals were done 10 % quicker.

While tapering, their intervals done slightly quicker than marathon pace while maintaining the pace of their other runs. The authors suggested that their intervals was not done at any greater efforts compared to normal training as their legs recovered as they ran less. This helped to increase their confidence for the race too.

Kate Spilsbury, the lead author referred these faster taper runs as the "priming effect" and suggested that pace should "feel easier as the runners reduce volume and become fresher."

Also have a read here.


Spilsbury KL, Fudge BW et al (2014). Tapering Strategies In Elite British Endurance Runners. E J Sp Sci. 5: 1-7.

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