We want to go into more detail on the point of tapering, because many beginners are so motivated that they hardly pay attention to regeneration or tapering before the competition or even completely forget about it. To really go all out again is absolutely the wrong way and one of the biggest training mistakes of all. Months of training preparation can be ruined if there is no tapering. We explain why.
What is Tapering?
Tapering means that you reduce the scope of training before the day of the competition. The reduced distance is particularly important here. If you do adequate training preparation, you will complete several weekly units. The result is that your body has to exert itself and, due to the intensive preparation, it is also in a kind of exhaustion. That is why tapering comes into play shortly before the competition. You allow your body to relax so that you can reach your full potential while running. That’s the theory.
How does tapering work?
It is very important to know that you have hardly made up for any training deficits in the last two weeks. That means staying cool according to the motto less is more. It is better to be rested at the start than exhausted. Many ambitious hobby runners make the mistake of believing that they are not optimally prepared. They experience negative training units, are dissatisfied with their performance and often increase the pace and volume. It is normal to experience an up and down in training. Everyday life and daily form often play a role. Here it is important not to stress the body even more through harder training. In addition, there is a risk that you will be injured, get sick and therefore not even be able to compete.
The last phase of the training is the tapering phase. Take it easy on the last few days. Perhaps in the past you have had that aha experience after a few days off running because of some other priorities about how good you felt while running? Everything was much fresher and fitter. This is exactly what tapering is, you get a performance improvement through recovery. Keyword supercompensation. It is now difficult to define how the tapering should look exactly and what period of time you are talking about. In general, you should reduce the training volume in the last week or two depending on the competition distance. We keep the pace, however, because if you run short but fast units at a competition pace, you will maintain your ability to be fast.
Do not catch up on training sessions
Design the tapering phase according to your body feeling. Alternative training is also a good way to avoid overload. If you get sick while preparing for training, there is no point in training anyway and catching up on training units.
Trust in yourself and your body without adding unnecessary stress. What you have not achieved up to now, you will no longer catch up.
Trust yourself and you will master the competition well. We do not recommend that you completely not run for the last week or two. Short runs at normal training pace and shorter pace runs are good. If you are training for your first competition, e.g. half marathon or marathon, and just want to get there, you can do without speed training in the tapering phase.
Get to know your body
However, every runner reacts differently to certain approaches. What works for one may not work for another. Learn from the tapering phase by logging certain things and also evaluating them. You get to know your body and find out which strategy works for you.
A short word on the subject of alternative training. Refrain from trying new things during the tapering phase. Don’t risk unnecessary exertion or sore muscles. If you have never bouldered, you are welcome to plan it after the competition. Alternatively, continue training to the usual extent, e.g. cycling or yoga. In the last few days, really give yourself the rest and reduce everything to a minimum.
Diet and sleep in the tapering phase
When it comes to nutrition, you shouldn’t overdo it in the days before you start and/or try something new. It is not even necessary to switch to pasta for days. The portion sizes can remain the same. A healthy and balanced diet is important. Find a diet that is good for you and, above all, that tastes good. Alcohol is not one of them, that is clear.
Now is the period in which you can enjoy more sleep and couch without having a bad conscience. Like to go to bed or read a book earlier than usual. Relaxation is an absolute must.
Just before the competition
Avoid lingering too long and running around during the marathon fair. A quick break-up run is OK, but then move on to the leisurely part.
The competition can come
We hope that you will immediately include the tapering phase in your training and that you will recognize the added value. We promise you that if you take the last few days before your competition a little more relaxed and stand at the start line with fresh feet, you will be able to call up your full performance.