It is very crucial to taper off on your running the week before a marathon. If you do not, you will only put yourself at greater risk of injury – and worst of all, you may not even make it to the starting line of the marathon that you have been training so hard for.
Do note that you should have completed all of your training by now, so there wouldn’t be a need to get in more kilometres. It simply won’t help you improve if you try to increase your distance at such a late stage.
Here is a simple tapering down plan that you can follow, in the seven days leading up to your marathon.
Seven Days Before
One week before the race, you should try to get in your last long run. This should be no more than 18 kilometres and your aim of doing this run is to give you the confidence of being able to last the distance of the marathon.
Six Days Before
You should definitely not run more than you did yesterday. It is recommended that you reduce the distance by about two kilometres from your previous run. As well, try to run at a slower pace than your desired marathon speed so that you don’t stress out your body too much.
Five Days Before
Five days before your marathon, you should do a speed workout, that is, increase your pace to your desired marathon pace, or even a little faster. Preferably, you should do about one kilometre at your marathon pace, and then do three intervals of one or two kilometres at a slightly faster than your desired marathon pace. Then you should cool down for the next one kilometre and allow your body to recharge.
Four Days Before
This should be an easy run of about six to seven kilometres at a pace that you are very comfortable with. Try to go slower than your marathon race pace. It won’t help to do strength training if you are used to doing this every week, because you need to give your body a break. As well, an extra session of strength conditioning is not going to make you stronger – it will only make you get injured, if you push yourself too hard.
Three Days Before
This should be another easy and short run. You should run no more than five kilometres and the pace should be slower than your marathon race pace. Do not stress yourself up too much. The only purpose of doing this run is to keep your running muscles loose, so that they don’t get tight on marathon race day.
Two Days Before
If you must go out for a run today, you should take it very easy – it should be no more than three or four kilometres, as your marathon is too close already. The worst thing you can do today is to do a new physical activity that your body is not used to doing, as it will only increase your risk of injury.
But if you don’t want to run, just have a lazy day and allow your muscles to fully recharge and recover for the marathon.
One Day Before
Today, you should rest. Try not to run at all. Instead, imagine yourself at the marathon finishing line and picture yourself running fast and strong.
But if you really must go out and shake up your muscles, you should stay clear of running. Do a two or three kilometre brisk walk. Take it very easy, as you do not want to get injured today or be too tired to run your marathon.
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