The Art Of The Marathon Taper

Photo: John Segesta

Guidelines

Most, if not all, of the foregoing is probably no mystery, so it’s time for some specific pointers. The following is a schedule I would prescribe for someone with a peak sustained (over at least four weeks) average training load of 70 miles (~110 kilometers) per week. Explanations of the workouts and minutiae follow the suggested schedule.

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Mileage

3

7

9

12 w/ last 4 @ LT pace

8

9

Off

15 w/ last 2 @ 10K race effort

60

2

7

12 w/ last 8-10 @ goal MP

4

6

9 incl. 1.5M @ MP; 400 jog; 2 x 800@ 3K race pace w/  3:00 jog; 1.5M @ goal MP

Off

10

48

1

8

4

8 w/ last 3 @ goal MP

5

Off

3

Marathon

28 (pre-race)

Note the near-absence of VO2 Max-style workouts (those involving reps at of faster than 5K race pace) and the emphasis on marathon-pace work. It may seem off to take a day off two days before the race while logging a short run the day before, but I’m not alone in finding that this helps stave off staleness than can occur in the direct wake of a rest day. Also, in the “dress rehearsal” four days out from the marathon, you should wear the same shoes and attire you plan to wear in the race itself, just to make sure all of your gear is a go.

RELATED — Race-Week Workouts: The Final Countdown

Obviously, this schedule can be adjusted for any peak mileage level, and keep in mind that it’s the principles, not following the schedule to the letter, that are of paramount importance.

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