Ask the Penguin: How to Taper
I’m a recreational runner who hopes to complete my 5th marathon in 5:30 in about 5 weeks. I’ve reach 20 miles for my long run at this point, and I don’t know how to finish my training. How many more long runs should I do?
For how long? How close up to the marathon can I cross train with strength training classes at my gym? I’m floundering.
Congratulations on getting to this point in your training. The hardest work is behind you. It’s time to start focusing on getting to the start line healthy, happy, and well rested.
Most training programs, these days, suggest a final 20 mile long run 3 weeks before the marathon. Since you’ve already done your 20, you’ll probably want to do another 3 weeks out.
Your official taper begins 3 weeks before your marathon. You can’t do anymore to prepare so you need to make sure that you are fully recovered physically and mentally from the training. You’ll want to decrease your weekly mileage by half each week leading up to the race.
Same with your cross-training. Back off. The ONLY goal now is the marathon.
John “the Penguin” Bingham, Competitor Magazine columnist
Author, The Courage to Start, No Need for Speed, Marathoning for Mortals and Running for Mortals.
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