6 Tapering Mistakes to Avoid

Once you get to the tapering part of your half or full marathon training, you may start to feel anxious and excited for your big race. It’s a stressful time, and it’s easy to make mistakes that could be very detrimental to your race. Here are six of the most common tapering mistakes with tips on how to avoid them.


Running Too Much

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When it comes to half or full marathon training, there’s no such thing as cramming for the final. Running harder or faster in the two weeks leading up to your race will hurt you more than help you in your race. With two weeks to go, you’re at your fitness peak and you're not going to make any fitness improvements.

Try to remember: less is more. Running less reduces your risk of injury, allows you time to rest and recover, and allows your muscles to store carbohydrates in preparation for the big race. Follow a half marathon schedule or full marathon schedule to make sure you’re not overdoing it in the final weeks.


Running Too Little

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Of course, tapering doesn’t mean that you should stop running completely before your race. You still need to keep running to maintain your fitness and stay sharp, both mentally and physically. Again, stick to your half marathon or full marathon training schedule and you’ll be ready to go.



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Some people assume that carbo-loading means they can stuff themselves full of pasta and bread in the days leading up to their race. That kind of carbo-loading can lead to “carbo-unloading” during the race. You don’t need to dramatically increase the amount of calories you’re consuming — just try to increase your percentage of carbs. In the week before your marathon, about 65% of your calories should come from carbs. Try to eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates (whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals), and drink plenty of fluids. You may find yourself feeling hungry all the time, so make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand.


Skimping on Sleep

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Although you’re not running as much during the tapering period, you may find yourself busy catching up on work and other things that you neglected during your training. Don’t use the tapering time as an opportunity to tackle a major project or catch up on all the little things you missed while you were busy training. Plan some relaxing activities that won’t stress you out. Sleep is also an important part of the tapering process, so try to aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night.


Get Race Obsessed

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In the weeks leading up to your race, you’ll likely get into “research mode” when you start obsessively checking the race website, weather.com, running forums, and running websites. You also may find yourself talking non-stop to your running buddies (and anyone else who will listen) about your race strategy and fears.

Although some pre-race prep — such as checking out the course map — is good, too much is going to feed into your pre-race anxiety and make you start doubting yourself (see below) and losing sleep (see above).


Doubt Yourself

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It’s very common to second-guess your training and worry that you should have done more to prepare for your race. Trust your training and think back to those runs when you felt strong and confident. If you kept a training journal, look back and read your entries to remind yourself of how hard you’ve worked. If you trained with others, talk to your running partners and have them reassure you that you’re ready.

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