Updated 27 October 2015

Tapering your runs before a marathon

An important part of training for a half-marathon (and any big event) – is the tapering phase which means reducing your total weekly distance..


When preparing for a race you need to reduce both your total weekly distance as well as the distance of your long runs.

Tapering should begin during the final two weeks of preparation. This will allow you to recover fully and be properly rested, but trained for the big day.

Here are some tips for tapering your runs:

Physical Preparation  

- Cut back on the distance and intensity of your training runs during the two-week period prior to Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon races

- Listen to your body. You have done the work and you can’t now squeeze in extra workouts that you missed out on earlier on in the programme. In fact - an important rule of thumb is "Less is best". This does not mean you should be lazy but don’t do too much.

- Stretch often in this two week period.

- Clip long toenails and treat blisters and calluses the week or two prior to the half-marathon.  

The week preceding Old Mutual Two Oceans   

- As you reduce your training during the last week, you will be burning fewer calories - thus, you may gain a kilo or so. Therefore, it’s not necessary to carbo-load on top of this – since if you don’t alter your dietary intake – you will be taking on board more energy than you burn.
- Eat nutritious and healthy foods (as you always should anyway!)
- During the two days before the half-marathon avoid high fibre, exotic spicy food and curries!
- Go and register and enjoy the awesome Two Oceans expo.’
- Experimenting with anything new - don't try anything new the week prior to, or during the half-marathon (running shoes, energy drinks, exotic foods!)    
Friday evening prior to the Old Mutual Two Oceans half  
- Be sure to eat "tried and tested" foods! As mentioned above- rather steer clear of salads and vegetables as too much fibre may result in gastric upsets on the day.  
- If you end your meal with coffee or tea, go for the decaffeinated or rooibos option- so that you are not kept awake due to the caffeine-load!
- Whilst a glass of wine or a beer is fine – call it quits after that – since running with a hangover “just ain’t fun!”  
Rest and the night before
- Aim to get lots of sleep in the week building up to your half-marathon.  
- Try to go to bed early on Friday night so you get a good night’s sleep- since with the early start on Saturday morning and possibly disrupted sleep on Friday night (due to nervousness and the prospect of an early start) – this will help you run your best race.
- Pack out everything you need on Friday afternoon – EVERYTHING! You don’t want to have to search for things on Saturday morning at 4am believe me!
- After your Friday evening meal, try not to think about the half-marathon. Chat to friends, watch TV or read a relaxing novel before going to sleep.
- Set two alarm clocks to wake you up (just in case the one doesn’t work – or you don’t hear it!) You have trained so hard for the race – you don’t want to end up missing it!

The morning of Old Mutual Two Oceans wake up early enough to:

- Get dressed – with a disposable layer on top if needed  
- Ensure you have everything you need  
- Have something light to eat – or a sports drink about 1h30 before the race.  
- Know where you will park a
- Go to your seeding pen about 30 minutes prior to your running time.
- Feel shivers up your spine as you sing NKOSI SIKELEL IAFRIKA  together with 16 000 runners who are one in spirit!

All that’s left then – is to go get your medal and thoroughly enjoy the experience.

With regard to energy during the race, remember to carry some form of energy with you – ie a Gu sachet or some sweets – they might come in handy if you are feeling a little flat and you are tired of drinking Coke!

Read more:

Chafing, athlete's foot, blisters, acne - skin problems runners have to deal with
First time marathon runners: don't be afraid!
Useful tips for first-time runners




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