The taper refers to the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important race. Getting the taper correct is key to making the most of your training and the race itself.
What you can’t do is train hard all the way up the date of the race. For the 10k and 5k the taper will start 7 - 8 days before the race day. It isn't long, but it is designed to get the body in tip top shape for the race.
A review on tapering published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise concluded “the primary aim of the taper should be to minimize accumulated fatigue, rather than to attain additional physiological adaptations of fitness gains”. The taper is a time to recover, so don’t blow all those weeks of great training.
Our training plans will all include elements of this checklist.
The Sunday before the race (so 1 week to go), avoid doing a long long run! Make it a longer run than your other runs, but you don't want to be out on your feet for too long.
The week leading into the race should consist of the same routine that you have had during your training to date, but you are just reducing the intensity of the workouts.
Keep some speed work in there, either some light threshold work or some 200's to keep the legs sharp.
During this week, you won't make any benefits to your fitness but you can hamper your chances of a good race.
Keep the legs ticking over.
Try and have a massage on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the race to give yourself the best possible chance of racing well
The last 24 hours before the 10k and 5k can be nerve racking, especially if this is your first big race.
It is important to stay relaxed, graze on carbohydrates and have a number of smaller meals. Even if you are travelling, or going to expo to collect your race number, have snacks in your bag, a water bottle, and perhaps energy drink to be sipping on. You need to be responsible for yourself, and also prepared.
Try to stay off your feet as much as possible if you can.
We recommend an easy jog, a few strides, and perhaps a stretch.
In terms of eating, it is not about huge volumes of pasta, this will make you feel bloated and be no good. It is about grazing on carbohydrates during the day, smaller meals that aren’t going to affect you stomach adversely.
Check your kit, make sure number is pinned on, check your travel plans.
Do not get obsessed with the weather forecast, you can’t control this part of the race, have a look at it and prepare your kit accordingly and then forget about it.
You may not sleep very well the night before your race –this is natural. If you managed to have a nap in the afternoon, and a few early nights in the few days leading up to the race, you will be absolutely fine. You will fall asleep, so just relax, trust in your preparations and training and look forward to the big day……