Tapering Before the Big Race

February 23, 2017

As the weather warms up and the calendar gets closer to spring, more runners are hitting the road to train for upcoming races. Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor for the Germantown Half Marathon on March 12. Any successful training plan for an endurance race should conclude with a well-timed tapering period.

What exactly is tapering? The “taper” time period consists of the final weeks leading up to your big race when you significantly reduce your training mileage. This time period serves as your body’s recovery period before the big event. Although decreasing mileage, many runners will want to run with the same intensity to maintain endurance.

There’s science backing this. According to the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Science, athletes can experience up to 6% improvement in muscular strength, hormone levels, neuromuscular functions and psychological status after strategically tapering their exercise routine.

What’s the timeline? When training for a half marathon, most runners will plan to taper anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. During this time period, many will find a sense of increased energy. It’s important to conserve your energy as much as possible, and incorporating a cross-training routine into your schedule may help cure your runner’s withdrawals.

My race is in three days – what should I do? Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of sleep in the days leading up to the race. Rest and hydration are critical elements that will help you perform to your full potential on race day. If you begin the race at a fluid deficit, it’s nearly impossible to fuel enough during the run to get back up to a normal, healthy level – let alone replenish the large amount of fluids you’re likely losing during the exercise. Runners might also consider taking sodium or potassium supplements during their run to replenish the minerals and electrolytes that water cannot replace by itself. Always consult your physician before adding supplements to your diet, and never experiment with new foods or supplements on race day. Use your training runs to see what works best for you and what doesn’t.

You’ll pass the finish line before you know it!

For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

This blog post was adapted from halfmarathons.net.


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