On the day of the race, it is important to be at your strongest. You should aim to maximize all the workouts you have done during the previous months. The goal is to push your boundaries beyond your day-to-day workouts. One way to do this is by using the technique called tapering. 


Tapering is a period of time that allows your body to recover fully from all the hard work while still keeping you in shape. It is a way to maximize your body’s full strength. The general rule of thumb is that the more important the race, the longer the taper should be. 


For example, 10k track runners may race at least once a week during the beginning of the season. They may only do tapering running, a relaxed run the day before the race. They will continue to do full workouts for the rest of the week. During mid-season, they may reduce their mileage or take additional days off for important events. 


Near the end of the season, when the most prestigious races occur, they will start eliminating all hard workouts and reducing their mileage two weeks before the big events. The concept is the same for marathoners. As the race approaches, reducing the intensity and overall mileage is necessary. Assuming that the marathon is the peak of the season, it is best to start tapering about two weeks before the race. If you have any light injuries that are not fully healed, or if your legs are tired, add a few more days to your tapering period.

How to Taper

Two weeks before the race, the mileage will be reduced, and the hard workout intensity will dramatically decrease. For advanced runners, there is a delicate balance between freshening the legs and keeping them sharp. In the week before the race, the mileage is reduced dramatically. This reduction should be at around 50% of your total mileage. The intensity of the hard workouts is all but eliminated.

There is an emotional component to tapering that should be addressed. With a reduction in the overall intensity of the workouts, the body will essentially go through withdrawals. It is extremely easy to find yourself getting edgy. As the race approaches, one can find themselves bouncing off the walls in the proverbial sense. This is also because adrenaline is starting to go through the body in preparation for the event. It is necessary to acknowledge this is a component of racing that one just has to ride through. This is a healthy thing as the body prepares for the battle ahead. There are some truly primal aspects that are helping the body prepare for the event. This is undoubtedly the time to practice going with the flow. It is best to try to mitigate all potential land mines in advance. Give yourself more time than usual for everything, whether going to the airport, the Pre-race expo, a restaurant, or the start of the race. The object is to preserve as much of that pent-up energy as possible


For advanced runners, there is another component to the tapering phase, and that is called sharpening. Without sharpening, some runners will feel out of rhythm on the day of the race after two weeks of tapering.

One way to combat this is to incorporate some very focused running in small portions of a coupleof runs before the race.This will help one maintain both mental and physical sharpness. For example, in a ten-mile run, 2 miles of the run may be at a focused pace well above race pace. It is important to shut down the pace before getting fatigued. Another example for the people who run track workouts is to scale the distance and the intensity down. It is still important to get up to speed. One should be very focused but at the same time relaxed.

I also think it is important not to get too wrapped up in the expo or other ways of needlessly spending your pent-up energies, such as exploring a new town or spending extra time going out with family and friends. Save this energy for the race.

The Shake Out run


 The run the day before the race.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it is more beneficial to do a workout the day before a big race than to take the day off. This workout is called a Shakeout Run. If your goal is to complete the race in under 4 hours, you should do an easy 20-30 minute run. For advanced runners, a slightly different approach is recommended. They should start with a 15-minute warm-up and gradually increase their pace until they reach their desired race pace. After finishing the run, they should allow themselves a 15-minute cooldown. This technique helps ensure their body is at its peak performance on race day.


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