Taper Strategies Q & A Style


Just so you know, I am completely ignoring the weather forecast for the weekend which is talking about the possibility of tropical storm rain for my half marathon on Saturday. I can’t even talk about it.

Since this is my taper week, I found it fitting to enlist the help of another one of my running blogger friends, Lisa, from Running Out of Wine, to talk to us about taper strategies.

Taper Week Strategies Q &A Style

Just like Michele, Lisa is a certified running coach, and, similar to last week’s post regarding fueling strategies, I tried to open up this taper conversation to more than just half marathon training in order to broadly cover the other races that may be on your agenda.

Is it necessary to taper for a 5k and/or 10k and if so, what should we do?

This would mostly depend on the type of training plan you were following.

For beginners, they may not be including much speed work in their training, and maybe their goal is to just complete the distance. In this case, the mileage during the last week leading up to a race would be slightly lower than it was during the bulk of their training, but it would look similar in structure to the other weeks.

For more advanced runners, their last hard workout would probably be about 10 days before the race, with maybe some strides at the end of few of the runs during race week. An advanced runner may also have higher mileage overall, which would be reduced as the race got closer.

What is the recommended taper period leading up to a half marathon and what should it look like? Does it vary depending upon the experience of the runner?

Typically for a half-marathon the recommended taper is about 2 weeks. I will usually personalize this based on the mileage the runner has done and when it makes sense for them to peak in their training. In general, 10-14 days is enough time to recover before the race.

I asked Lisa for an example of what my taper week should look like. Her advice is based upon my normal running/workout routine and me wanting a rest day the day before this weekend’s race. Sometimes I take the rest day two days before; this week, it is working better for me to take it on Friday instead.

taper week workouts

With each run, I will add in some strides so my legs remember and remain fresh for running fast.

Is it a personal preference to rest the day before a race? I normally rest two days before the race and run a few miles easy the day before.

I think this is personal preference.

For those who aren’t sure what their preference is, I will usually suggest a rest day or two before a race. Anything within those 2-3 days before the race should be short and easy; you’re not going to improve your fitness any more at this point! The purpose is to shake out your legs, keep them loose, and help you to get prepared mentally for your race.

During a taper period, should we lighten up on strength training?

Yes, typically I recommend taking the week before a race off from strength training.

Two weeks before, lighten up on the strength training but continue with some core work or any other pre-hab exercise you were already doing. You don’t want to be sore going into your race, so this is not the time to try anything new!

Do you advise running a warm up mile before a half marathon?

This is personal preference, and I think for more advanced runners who are comfortable covering 13.1 miles it can be helpful to get the legs prepared to run by warming up.

Those who are covering the distance for the first time may feel more intimated by adding a warm up to their race, and can use the first mile of the race as a “warm up”.

Any last minute do’s and don’ts for a taper period?

Don’t try anything new or different, stay hydrated, keep your food intake consistent even though you’re not running as much, and try not to overthink things during this time!

We have a tendency to doubt our training, imagine new pains, or get anxious about what the race will bring. Try to relax and trust your training!

Read more from Lisa and learn about her running coach services here.

Taper Strategies Q & A Style with @runningoutowine #tapertime #running #halfmarathon #fitfluential #taperweek Click To Tweet


Have you ever run a race in serious rain? 

Do you typically like to take your rest day the day before a race or two days before?

Any additional questions about tapering for Lisa?


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  1. says

    I agree with everything Lisa said! And the weather this week SUCKS big time, I think it might be a bit cleared up in time for your race though? I’ll cross my fingers! It’s a high mileage week for me to run almost completely in the rain!

  2. says

    Boston this past year was the first time I ever had to race in an absolute down pour. While it was not ideal, I definitely felt like a total badass when I finished! I take a rest day two days before, with a 2-3 mile shakeout run the day before a marathon. Great information!!
    Jamie recently posted…Hogsback Half RecapMy Profile

  3. says

    Living in the PNW, we can’t really escape rain. I hate ran and wind, though. That’s the worst combo. I typically only take a rest day the day before a marathon otherwise I don’t (ever) take rest days. I’ll run easy, and use that as a rest day. LOL
    Suzy recently posted…Anxiety: Part Four of a ZillionMy Profile

  4. says

    I am currently tapering for the Chicago Marathon right now. I would normally be driving myself crazy, but I’ve been staying busy. It always takes time figuring out what works for you based on the distance you are running.

    • says

      Ugh, thanks! I keep seeing different forecasts. I am hoping now for regular rain if it must rain and not a tropical storm! BTW -I don’t know if my comment on your post today posted, I was having the same problem through bloglovin. I think I tried loading your page separate and it was still slow to load in terms of typing the comment. I hate this technology stuff!

    • says

      I often forget that I do well when running in the rain but I still hope for sun. Or just clouds. Okay, I will take rain just not tropical storm rain at this point! lol Ugh! I am trying not to watch the weather forecast too much just yet but the timing of this storm is terrible!