How To Taper For Dublin City Marathon + 14 Other Tips To Help You Prepare
Getting your taper for Dublin City Marathon right is important. Maintaining a high weekly mileage too close to marathon day will likely leave you depleted and no doubt take from your ability to perform to your best.
So backing off the mileage, staying loose and keeping a positive mindset in the final couple of weeks needs to be in your plan. But how should you prepare in the final few weeks before the marathon? This week on the podcast we’re going to take a look at tapering, and 14 other ways to prepare properly for your first marathon.
Links From The Show
- How To Taper – Runner’s Connect
- How To Taper – Competitor
- The Importance of Eating Clean
- Stretching Instructional Videos
- Mental Training For Athletes
- Liam Hennessy Massage Therapist
#1 Taper 2 to 3 Weeks Before The Marathon
There’s no shortage of articles out there detailing how to taper properly, like this one from Competitor and this one from Runner’s Connect. Tapering is important but it’s also important not to get to get too caught up in detail.
In very simple terms you need to back off your mileage and intensity 2 to 3 weeks out from the marathon. I would always do my last long run two weeks before the marathon and back off the mileage and intensity gradually over the following next 14 days.
If it’s your first marathon then maybe consider backing off three weeks out. Drop mileage to 80% three weeks out, then 60% two weeks out, then 40% or less in the final week.
There’s really no reason to make it more complex than that. The day before the marathon consider doing a light 2 or 3 miles. If you’d like more sciencey stuff on tapering check out this research paper.
#2 Keep Your Diet Clean
If you realise the importance of a clean diet free of additives, preservatives and refined sugar then you’ll likely have this one boxed off by now. If you haven’t then try to stick to the most nutritious foods you can get and avoid heavily processed foods.
Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, high quality whole grain carbohydrates, good quality organic protein etc. Stay away from takeaway foods, frozen foods and other low quality packaged convenience foods.
Some runners get caught up in ideas that tapering will mean they will put on weight (body fat). They’ll see the scales go upwards as the miles go down and start to panic. Well, try to chill out, it’s normal. Your body is retaining fuel and water to help you get ready for your event.
#3 Stay Hydrated
Keep a bottle of still water with you all the time and keep it topped up. Aim to consume about 2ltr to 2.5ltr water per day even if you are not training on that particular day.
Stay away from energy drinks and other sugary drinks, they are not necessary at this point. On the day of the event you may plan to use energy drinks and that’s fine, but right now you don’t need them.
#4 Avoid The Weights Room
If you’ve been training weights as part of your plan, now is the time to set them aside. Any strength work you do now with weights is likely to negatively affect your performance.
Weight training damages muscle fibers which often need 10 days to fully recover so I’d suggest that you don’t risk it at this point. In fact any high intensity training is not a good idea from here on.
#5 Perform Dynamic Stretching Daily
Unlike weight training, stretching and flexibility work right up to marathon day is a good idea. For the next few weeks, perform dynamic stretching every day but don’t push it.
Dynamic stretching involves movement through a short distance (say 5m) while you stretch. Static stretching is as the name suggests, stationary.
Take things handy and go through your stretching and foam rolling drills to keep any tightness at bay. Check out the stretching drills in these instructional videos for more info.
#6 Get Plenty Of Sleep
It’s tough to perform when we are tired, and I don’t think we need a scientific study to tell us that. I think we all accept that getting good quality sleep will help us perform better.
So getting enough sleep each night over the next couple of weeks is important. Be strict with yourself on this one. Turn off the TV and hit the nest early, your body will thank you for it on marathon day.
#7 Get A Sports Massage
Even if you don’t have a niggle or a sore spot, getting a sports massage can help you relax and loosen out the body. But be careful about who you go to see.
You might think a sports massage therapist is a sports massage therapist but I’d be inclined to differ. Once I went to a therapist at a gym where I was a member and I was crippled with back pain for weeks afterwards.
I’d suggest you go to an experienced therapist that specialises treating runners. They’ll know what your body goes through and how to give you the best treatment.
#8 Avoid The Temptation To Speed Up
There is while tapering, the temptation to push yourself. Put very simply, this is a bad idea! You might feel a million dollars out for a run on a given day, but you shouldn’t allow your temptation to overtake you.
Pushing yourself beyond a handy conversational pace regardless of distance, is likely to negatively affect your energy levels and promote fatigue. So stay disciplined and stick to low intensity work.
This will be especially important in the final week. I don’t mean you should become sedentary, rather keep to the percentage reduction in your milage mentioned above.
#9 Visualise The Perfect Race
The mind plays a primary role in performance, and conditioning the mind to perform at your best is vital.
While sitting quietly at home early in the morning before the day starts, visualise your perfect race. Train your mind to expect that exactly what you want to see.
See yourself in the race at key points and everything going according to plan. Imagine looking at your watch at mile 10, 15, 20 and 24 and seeing the time you want to see.
Imagine crossing the line celebrating with your finish time exactly as you want it. Use the metal training methods outlined in this article to train and discipline your mind.
#10 Manage Your Thoughts
Your day to day thoughts will influence your performance so watch how you talk to yourself. Keep an eye on your self talk and correct it when you notice it moving in the wrong direction.
Doubts about your ability, imagining negative situations during the event, thinking and pondering disaster will likely bring it into your experience so don’t do it!
Catch yourself in the early stages of negativity and say out loud to yourself “hold on a second, that’s not how it’s going to go. Here’s how it’s going to be…” Then launch into a story of how you want things to turn out.
#11 Keep Things Simple
Don’t add any extra stuff to do, either at home or work and avoid starting a new project or major plans. Stay out of the pub or any other social events that could distract you from your goal.
You need your mind clear and away from distractions in this coming few weeks so make sure you have time and space to spend relaxing. Now that’s difficult when you have kids to mind, but you’ll need to do it.
Get help from family and friends, get the kids to bed early and so on.
#12 Prepare Marathon Day Nutrition
In the final couple of weeks before Dublin City Marathon, you’ll need to practice your marathon day nutrition. It’s likely you’ve been doing this already, however if you’ve not then you’ve two weeks to get it right.
Give specific attention to what breakfast you’ll have that morning and practice eating that way for the next couple of weeks. Decide what you’ll eat and drink on the way to the start too.
Finally, decide and practice what you’ll eat during the event and at what times.
#13 Practice Your Event Support
That leads us into race day support. You’ll probably have friends and family out to support you, so get them to assist you. Arrange for them to have a food or clothing back up for you at given mile markers.
This could prove to be very important if you lose your banana or gels. Maybe you have a gear malfunction like a hole in your sock or you need vaseline because it’s been raining.
Having a backup will give you that extra bit of confidence that all the bases are covered.
#14 Practice Your Race Kit Preparation
Just like marathon day nutrition, you’ll need to practice getting your kit together. Prepare the exact kit you’ll wear on marathon day this weekend and lay it out the night before.
Next morning get ready like it’s marathon day, thinking and doing exactly what you intend to do on Sunday October 30th. Do this several times before race day and it will feel like second nature.
#15 Stick To The Plan
Change nothing now or at any stage in the last couple of weeks in the run up to marathon day. You’ll find there is plenty of commentary from other competitors on how best to prepare and you’ll need to shut this out.
Don’t be swayed by the opinions of other runners on what you should eat or how you should prepare. If you’ve done the work and you’re feeling good then it’s fair to say you’re in the right place.
Stick to the plan and you’ll do well. Change things at this late stage and you might well regret it. Believe me I’ve learned the hard way.
Need some help preparing for Dublin City Marathon and could do with some assistance? Well, you’re almost there. Get in touch with me for a one to one and let’s get you over the final hurdle before marathon day.