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The Marathon Taper

Queens Distance been asked multiple questions about running over the years; how to train, what training plans to follow, how to cross training, what nutrition to take, and how to taper. In order to help train for races, we host multiple Destination Long Runs and track sessions at Astoria, Forest Park, and Bayside. To get the most out of those runs before the big race day, it’s also important to understand the taper.

It’s been weeks of training. Going to sleep early and getting up early to run has become the norm. We’ve been practicing our marathon pace, our nutrition, and our mindset. Then, two to three weeks before race day is the time to taper.

What is tapering? We’ve asked three of our members to write down their own thoughts and approaches when it comes to tapering.

Elizabeth Corkum

Upcoming Marathon: St. George Marathon, October 6th.

Elizabeth at the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon 2017.

 The taper is perhaps the most important mesocycle for a marathoner. After months of hard work, the final preparation for the marathon occurs. The taper is usually the final 2-3 weeks before the goal marathon. During that time, mileage is cut down systematically – 20-30% each week. Low mileage marathoners reduce less than high mileage marathoners. It’s recommended that cross training (XT) discontinues two weeks out (just get extra rest on a previous XT day), and strength training (or any additional activities) pause a week out from race day.

It’s important to continue running through the taper (don’t just rest for 2-3 weeks!) and to stay sharp. Therefore, some speed workouts and marathon goal pace runs should continue. In fact, some studies suggest that an athlete can experience a 3% boost in performance on race day if the taper includes some speed work but reduction in mileage. The hardest part is respecting the taper. Many of us want to squeeze out any additional training possible. Once you are three weeks out, the hay is in the barn and there’s not much an athlete can do to make up for missed workouts 12 weeks before. Trust in the work you HAVE put in, do the runs on your calendar, and get extra sleep and rest, hydrate, and stick to nutritionally dense foods. Spend your time and energy towards studying your race course, race weekend plans, and relaxing.


Marie-Ange Brumelot

Upcoming Marathon: pacing the TCS NYC Marathon, November 4th.

Marie at the NYRR 18 Mile Tune-up 2017. Photo courtesy of Sam LaFata.

The process of reducing overall training volume for a peak performance at a goal race.

To get your legs back from heavy training and be fresh for your race.

Some races can be used as training runs towards a further particular goal. Taper in preparation for your specific goal race only.

Athletes whose training regiment requires deloading in order to perform at their best.
Let us explain further.
-One can train to peak, then tapers and races. Usually these athletes have a high training volume, thanks to which many gains are obtained, but require rest before peak performance can be achieved.

-One can train all the way to the race, gains fitness all throughout his or her training cycle which culminates with a race. No tapering is required.

Is there a better option? YES! The one that works for you!

We are all different and ultimately need distinct approaches.
-TIMING: Tapering is about recovering before a race, so your own personal ability to recover will directly affect the length of your tapering period. A general approach is to deload over the course of 2 weeks.
-AMOUNT: The higher the training volume, more fatigued you are, the more you should taper. The general rule is to reduce training volume by 40% over the course of those 2 weeks.

COACH’S TIP: While tapering, focus on recovery, look back at what you have achieved in your training cycle, visualize your race regularly, and get mentally ready to lay out your best effort on race day.

As Marie puts it, tapering is a good time to sit back and relax.


Christine Nasol

Upcoming Marathon: TCS NYC Marathon, November 4th.

Christine at a recent NYRR live discussion for TCS NYC Marathoners. Check out the video on Facebook.

With 6 weeks of training left until the NYC Marathon, I cannot stress the importance of incorporating tapering into your training routine, and I remember how important it was in my training. During training, tapering is important to allow your body to rest and giving your legs a fresh start so that come marathon day, you’re able to run to the best of your ability.

Even if you haven’t had a perfect training cycle, trusting in your training process and that you’ve done the work is key. It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting in one more hard run, and feeling like you need to push yourself up until the day of the big race. I definitely remember my own fear of feeling like I was going to lose all my hard work and fitness if I tapered! But it takes just a few miles of overtraining to cause injury, or not feeling like you have a full tank of energy for your big race.

Everyone’s tapering schedule is different, depending on their ability level and personal goals, but my own tapering schedule for my long runs from last year after my last long run of 18-20 miles was as follows: 3 weeks left until the marathon: Ideally your last long run (18-20 miles) 2 weeks left until the marathon: Shorter mileage run of 12-14 miles 1 week left until the marathon: A run under 10 miles (7-8 miles worked for me!) And then of course, MARATHON WEEK!

Incorporating proper recovery techniques (foam rolling, stretching, yoga), proper nutrition, sleep, and some good shake out miles during the week of the marathon will set you up to run your big race with the proper energy and fresh legs that you need to feel your best on race day!


Trust your training and trust the taper! If you have any questions or suggestions for another blog post, email us at Good luck to all the marathoners this fall season!

We’ll see you out there.

Queens Distance