Hello Taper...

Yesterday evening, as the sun went down over Oranmore throwing a beautiful orange hue over cow-filled fields, I finished my 22.5km run - the last long run of my Marathon plan. Its 2 weeks to my first marathon. Where the hell has the last 10 weeks gone? I have followed my plan religiously (moving runs a day or two here and there to accommodate life which inevitably gets in the way) and here I am standing at the fringe of my first Marathon Taper.

My marathon plan

The primary aim of a taper is "to minimize accumulated fatigue, rather than to attain additional physiological adaptations or fitness gains". I am following a checklist as set out on Runners World (here) which is going to guide me right up to the race day in two weeks time. I have already trusted the plan this far so who am I not to trust the taper... Here is what it says:

Training Checklist
  1. Your mileage should be 1/2 to 2/3s the amount you ran during your highest milage
  2. Almost all runs should be slow (90s-120s slower than marathon goal pace)
  3. Weekday short runs should not exceed 4 miles (6.4km)
  4. Weekend long run should be 8-10 miles (13-16km) max
Mental Preparation:
  1. Set multiple time goals so you won't finish the race "empty handed"
    e.g. Fantastic, Really Good and Good
  2. Set general (non-time) goals
  3. Prepare for the race morning - How you'll get there, where you'll park, how early you want to get there, what you'll wear?
  4. Check the course map and study it
Nutritional Needs:

  1. Keep Calories coming in as usual - your body still needs to repair tissue damaged during milage built-up.
  2. Even though you are running less, resist the temptation to cut way back on fat. Fat reserves postpone or prevent race-day collision with "the wall"
  3. Eat foods high in unsaturated fat such as nuts or fish.
  4. If weight-lifting, stop
In terms of training, my plan follows that exactly what is specified above. This week I have 38km to clock up versus the 62km I was doing two weeks ago. My weekday runs are all 6km and my planned weekend run is 13km. All in all, the only thing I have to be aware of there is just to keep my runs slower than Marathon Pace. As for Mental Prep, I need to do some work on my time and non-time goals. While I have times in mind but I need to sit down and check how realistic they are before I commit them to this blog. Obviously I'd love to say 'I'll run it in 3 hours' but that really isn't realistic. I promise I'll post them as soon as I have decided what I want to set as my target. 

Finally (and most scarily) are the Nutritional Needs. This is where I think I am going to have the biggest problem. In training for the Marathon, I have let my nutrition slip but have been getting away with it thanks to the amount of time I have spent running. A biscuit here, a treat there. Individually they weren't impacting on me as I knew say at coffee break while I was enjoying a Toffeepop that I was heading off out for a 10km run as soon as I got home from work. Now however, I think I am going to have to be careful for the next two weeks not to splurge (which I already feel I have been doing).

I am dreading tomorrow's WW weigh-in, purely because I know I have been a pup all week. I have been dipping in and out of the fridge/press on a regular basis under the presumption "Sure amn't I training for a marathon". And while the argument mentioned in the link I posted above says 'This is no time to diet' - I know I have been bending that rule just a little bit too much in my favour. There is a difference between the fats obtained in Haagen Daas versus say a Tuna Pasta.

Either way, here I am in the Taper Zone. I've said in a previous post before about time passing, and how it will pass regardless of what you do with it. Again I am reminded of how true this statement is. I've put in the hours pounding the roads around Galway. I've stuck to the plan. I've run even when all I have wanted to do was sit curled up on the couch. Something tells me this could be a long two weeks up to the Marathon - but I'm excited. 


  1. I suspect you're going to find the taper tougher than the race! I'll slag you incessently over the next few weeks if I see you Instagramming any inappropriate meals and snacks!!!

    You have my complete respect and admiration for getting to where you are in such a short and disciplined time. If I get my mojo back, I'll try line up with you (or a nearby coral) in next years Dublin marathon.


    1. I have no doubt Karl that you'll be lining up next year and I'll hopefully be beside you (assuming I don't die during the Marathon!). You can be my Instagram-monitor administering slaps where needed :)

  2. Most thought provoking, as usual. Enjoy your taper.

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