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Taper Your Way to Success

Inverness Half Marathon

Shaun Cumming

As we approach the big day and our runners fit in their final weeks of training, Shaun Cumming from Run4It in Inverness gives some valuable insight into how to taper for the race.

“The taper is generally accepted as the last two to four weeks of your training schedule. There are many different ideas about tapering but the crux is that you are now reducing your mileage after hitting your longest training week.

“The purpose of the taper is to get your muscles and system feeling fresh when you take to the start line. If you have been following a typical 10 to 16 week training plan then it is unlikely you will have ever been running on totally fresh legs.

“The tapering period is what helps you get into this position for race day. In theory the taper is easy, you are simply reducing your mileage, right? Unfortunately for some, the idea and execution of this can leave them feeling agitated. Facing reduced mileage with race day looming can bring on doubt. Thoughts like “Am I losing fitness that I have gained?” is a question I think all runners have asked themselves.

“It’s understandable to think like this, your mind and body have got settled into a habit of increasing distances. The trick is to “trust the taper”, you are definitely not going to lose your hard-earned fitness at this stage.

“The way I look at it myself is that I am not going to improve my fitness in the final two weeks. Cramming in mileage at this point is futile. The body takes much longer than a fortnight to show signs of improvement.

“I reduce my weekly mileage by 20% at three weeks out, by 30% at two weeks out and then I have one last training run during race week. This last training run will be no closer than five days before race day.

“This period is when muscle and connective tissue get some valuable rest time to repair and strengthen. As a keen runner I also feel this time gets me feeling desperate to run again. The anticipation from not running helps build excitement ahead of the race. You have now (hopefully!) done all the hard work, the race is your reward to let that hard work shine so go out and produce your moment! All the best to everyone!”

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