We outline here the basic concepts for a two week taper into your half marathon, a taper that begins immediately following your longest training workout.
You just ran your longest training distance ahead of the half marathon coming up in about two weeks. Now is the time you begin a formal taper period as part of your periodized training program. With a successful taper, you’ll be well rested and full of energy at the START LINE of your half marathon in two weeks.
Two weeks out
If you are especially tired or feeling run-down, consider taking two easy days between workouts during this week.
Last “long” prior to race day
Your last long distance should be the weekend prior to race day. Approach this run casually, easily and just enjoy it. No hills, no need for speed or intensity. This is a “taper” run.
Last week prior to race day
No hills, no hard running. Have a minimum of two rest days between each weekday run. The purpose of the workouts is to allow for continued rest while maintaining your strength.
NUTRITION - What to eat and drink?
During the last few days before the race, stay away from fried or greasy foods, and reduce your consumption of red meat and large amounts of protein-heavy foods. Remember, these are nutritional recommendations for individuals who have been experimenting all season with what works best for you.
If you want to incorporate caffeine into your race-day performance strategy, implement a significant reduction of caffeine beginning 21 days prior to your race day, where the last 10 days prior to race, you are taking in minimal caffeine. On race day, athletes using this caffeine as a performance enhancement will take a dosage of caffeine at strategic points during the race. Consult your coach and/or doctor for ideas on dosage and timing.
avoid entirely in the days leading up to race day.
During the last few days before the race, you need 1/2 of your body weight (lbs) in ounces per day if you don’t run, more if you do. Example: Sally weights 140lbs, and she will consume 70oz of water during the last 3-4 days prior to the race.
WATER and ELECTROLYTES
During the last few days before the race, add sports drinks with electrolytes to your intake of water. Some athletes add salts when the weather temperatures are expected to be high and the race distances long. Experimentation and experience determines what works best with you.
FOOD CHOICES – A BALANCED APPROACH TO NUTRITION
Carbohydrate-rich foods (complex carbohydrates) are best the last several days. Iron-rich food items other than red meat the last few days.
THE RACE – ENDURANCE WORKOUT FOR PERFORMANCE
Drink 4-8 ounces water and/or a Sports drink (carbohydrate/electrolytes) every 15-20 minutes depending on the conditions and prior experimentation. Consume calories on a plan: 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour after the first hour, or approximately 100-120 calories. Remember to read the instructions that come with every commercial products used by athletes. For example GU which comes in 100 calorie packets directed to be used every 45 minutes during a long distance endurance event.
LOTS OF SLEEP. STRETCH.
Consider extra stretching the last few days, especially if you have developed a routine you enjoy.
LAST TWO HOURS
Hydrate with about 20 ounces of water about 2 hours before the race, with the plan of having an empty bladder at the race start.
The last two weeks is not the time to experiment. Don’t try anything new the last few days (foods, supplements, stretches, etc.) Stick to your plan.
APPAREL What to wear? Wear synthetics… the same items you’ve worn all season.
If you have new shoes, try to have at least 40-50 miles on them prior to race day. And probably, no more than about 300 miles on your race day shoes.
Arrive to the start in plenty of time to avoid last minute rushing and unnecessary stress. Allow time for a 5-10 minute warm up that is completed about 5 minutes before the race start. Drink some water (maybe 8 ounces within 20 minutes of the start). Be sure to allow time for any last minute bowel/bladder needs to be accommodated. Stretch while standing in the crowd the last few minutes before the start. Place yourself according to your ability in the starting field.