Coaches Notes- Marathon Note#14- The TAPER!


Thurs 6:45PM GROUP RUN THIS WEEK – I looked at the schedule and we are do the our FIELD TEST! 
As a number of you have been asking about the MARATHON TAPER, which is still a few weeks away, I thought I would dedicate this week’s note to that!
Psychologically the TAPER is hard for most runners who have a hard time processing running LESS to get STRONGER/FASTER. However, in reality that is how it works and as the basis behind the concept of PERIODIZATION (which is the concept of several weeks of building up training volume followed by a down week of recovery – but in the case of a marathon that recovery period is extended).
We have been following a classic 4 week block periodization schedule, where the first 3 weeks show gradually increasing mileage followed by a 4th week where there is a reduction in volume (20-30%). Block 2 then starts a bit higher, but again has 3 weeks of building followed by a recovery week. Your marathon preparation has been just like this, but now we will be extending the recovery period and call it a TAPER.
Why do we need the TAPER?
First one must understand that in a one week recovery period or three week TAPER one does not loss any fitness (one of the main areas of concern for so many marathoners). In fact, studies have shown that you will actually improve your fitness during this period.
How you ask? 
Well, first consider the huge volume of running you just completed by the time your do your last long run. That volume places a great deal of strain and stress on a body. Muscles get damaged and need time to repair (one of the reasons we see weight gain after very long runs – the body retains water to help with the repair). Additionally, levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones are all depleted and need time to return to normal levels. Also, at your peak mileage, your body’s immune system is at its weakest and is very susceptible to catching a cold or getting an injury (notice how many have colds 2-3wks out from a marathon?). All of these things are addressed by the TAPER, thus allowing the body to adapt to the training stress and achieve the fitness gains that accompany that amount of work.
You are now about 4 weeks out and getting down to the wire  – what now?
Several things to ponder and take care of:
  1. Do you have the shoes you will be running the marathon in? If you are changing to new shoes for the marathon, do it now!
  2. Make sure to eat a good amount of PROTEIN now to help with the recovery process (if you don’t eat meat – look to eggs, beans, soy and dairy). Shoot for 75-100gms of protein a day!
  3. Your body’s immune system is likely at its weakest right now (3wks out), make sure you are loading up on the vitamins (either a multi-vitamin or plenty of fresh fruit).
  4. If you have not decided on a goal time – think of 3 goals to shoot for (A – very optimistic, B – realistic, yet still obtainable, C – easily attainable time)
  5. Only POSITIVE thoughts from here on in! Much of running a marathon is mental – Stay away from those who send off negative vibes.
    Trust on your training and preparation and the rest will come!
  6. Speed or and intensity end 2 weeks out
  7. Even though your mileage is dropping, make sure you keep the calories coming in – which might lead to a small weight gain the week before the marathon – but this is normal and you will need those calories come race day! Carbs become very important the week of the marathon as you look to load up your muscles with glycogen. About 60-70% of your calories should come from carbs in the last 3 days.
  8. Hydrate well week of race
    This means no new shoes, no new energy drink, no new food, no new exercises, NO, NO, NO!
  10. Two days before take FULL rest day
  11.  Day before do easy 2-3mi run to help exercise off that pent up energy.
  12. Night before, pack and go to bed early’


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The Gear Corner – Left over cool weather gear from my cycling teams

(all ideal for runners but sorry guys, only female stuff left)

Jackets / Tops-
Sportful Fiandre Ultimate Women’s rain/wind jacket – $75ea
(2 in each of L and XL in Black and Blue, reg $180, runs 1 size small)
Pearl Izumi Women’s Pro Amfib shell in Teal (2 in L, reg $225, sizing true) – $75ea
Arm warmers / base layers –
Women’s Helly Hansen Lifa crew new LS base payers (Black, sizing true, XS or S, reg $47) – $20

A look ahead to your Schedule – 

  • Week of Oct 4th   – Build week again and LONG RUN is now 15 to 18mi!
  • Week of Oct 11h   – PEAK MILEAGE WEEK – Your LONG RUN should top out this week in the 18-22mi range!
  • Week of Oct 18th – Build week again and but our LONG RUN distances start to drop as we approach the Taper
  • Week of Oct 25th – The TAPER begins!


  1. Thurs 6:45pm GROUP RUN (same meeting spot – Engineer’s Gate at 90th and 5th ave on the dirt bridal path under the BIG TREE). 

  2. MARATHON QUIK TIP #13 – Start Slow!

    Run the first two to three miles 15 to 30 seconds per mile slower than goal pace. This preserves precious glycogen stores for later in the race so you can finish strong. It is easy to start too fast with all of the adrenalin you will experience as part of the NYC marathon. Plus you will have very fresh legs!  When Catherine Ndereba set a world record at the 2001 Chicago Marathon, she eased into things by running the first 5K at just over 5:40-per-mile pace, and went on to average just under 5:20 per mile for the race (not that I am expecting you all to post those same splits!).