How much do I taper for my marathon in 2 weeks?

Yesterday I had a much needed day off.  I took a vacation day from work and slept until 7:30.  Of course today I’m back up at 3:45 AM, but I am feeling more awake and less run down.

This leads me into a question I’ve been dealing with and if you marathon runners would like to help, I’d appreciate it.


I know tapering is a difficult thing.  My question is, how much and when.  I am 50 years old and have been running since March 2012.  I’m averaging 50 miles a week.  I want to run this marathon as well as I can and don’t want to under or over taper.  My marathon is 2 weeks from tomorrow.  Also I am physically tired from the workouts and long runs (as I assume everyone is at the time in training).  My hip is still bothering me and my right achilles isn’t doing that great.

So any ideas on tapering for an old guy?  🙂

On to a few other things since I missed my post yesterday.

I went to pick up some vitamins from the doctor that helped my Lovely Wife and me lose close to 100 lbs each.  I hadn’t seen his receptionist in a couple months and I was in my running clothes as I wanted to run a bike path near work.  As I walked in and she saw me, her first comment was, “You are virtually unrecognizable”.  The weight loss and the running seems to have made a big difference.  It made me feel good.

Also, I had a great run on the bike path.  I ran 5 miles, 4 of which were under a 7:45 pace.

That is about it.  I’ve got to get ready to meet Neill (@BigBigGeek) at the state park to run with him on his long run.  Last week it was so nice to run and talk.  I’m looking forward to doing this again.

2 weeks from tomorrow is the Lehigh Valley Marathon.  I can’t wait!!!

25 thoughts on “How much do I taper for my marathon in 2 weeks?

  1. Most marathon schedules would have a two or three week taper. As a weekly 50miler you shouldn’t need 3 weeks. Perhaps try to do 30 miles this week and about 15 miles next week, with 2 rest days before the marathon, with a 1 mile run on the day before to keep loose, with another 1 mile before the marathon to warm up and get your head right. All the best for your race!

  2. First, congrats on the progress in your health and running! So great! Next, I love what Jay Johson, Jack Daniels, and the Hansons say about tapering, which basically boils down to a few things. 1) think about it not as “tapering” but as “peaking”…that is, you’re looking for that balance between getting a full recovery without loosing any of the physiological adaptations you’ve worked so hard for. Essential you want to cash in on as much of your fitness as possible 2) The 14-21 days taper concept is designed for elites who are training up to 12hrs per week or more and 100 miles per week or more, not us age-groupers, and three 3) don’t forget the mental preparation

    From the studying I’ve been doing, talking to lots of experienced runners, and some self-experimentation, it looks like a safe combo for you would be something like a moderate decrease in mileage 2 weeks out (say from 50mi to 35-40mi) with your last hard workout/run (e.g. repeats, tempo etc) 10 days out from race day (that’s how long 100% recovery/physiological adaptation takes), and long run with some strides thrown in there (12mi?), then the last week 3-4 runs between 3 and 8 miles, again with some strides here and there to keep your turnover practiced, totally something like 20-25 miles for the week by the time you get to the start of your race.

    The day before, I usually like to run an easy 3 miles, but you could get the same benefit more or less doing some leg swings and light dynamic stretched when you take pit-stops during your car journey…you’ll want to protect your back and hips nice from getting tight from all that driving.

    And finally, visualize. Prepare your mind and expectations.

    So, that’s the longest comment I’ve ever left, I hope there is something in here that will be helpful! Clearly, I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot this year! And, I’ve got a marathon in 8 days! Gah!

    Best of luck!

    • Wow. That is immensely helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write. I have been debating running about 30 – 35 miles next week and about 20 the week before. Your comment about elite athletes is helpful also. Puts things into perspective. Good luck with your marathon next week. It sounds like you have it down. Congrats!!!

  3. I’ve found that keeping legs fresh while tapering is strangely hard – so while I cut back on my miles, I’ll end several runs each week with strides/accelerations – I’ll do 4-6 that are between 50-100 meters long. These are not a sprint – rather a build up to a tolerable fast pace (thus the name “acceleration”!!)
    And congrats to you and your wife on the massive changes to your health/life!!!!

    • Thank you so much. It is amazing the changes that have occurred in our lives in the past couple of years.
      Thanks for the advice on strides/accelerations. I will incorporate that into my runs over the next two weeks. Great help. Thanks!

  4. Have to be honest – I SUCK at tapering. Mainly because I can’t taper my appetite to save my life so I keep running to keep the weight off. With that being said, since your body is feeling fatigued already, I would cut your miles down to 30 this week. And the next week I would run Monday and Wednesday – no more than 6 miles. When you get to your destination on Friday, go run 2-3 miles just to loosen your legs up. Saturday, I would probably do another 2-3 miles very EASY.
    The key is this – at this point, you aren’t improving your fitness level. You are trying to rest your body and get your head on straight, while reminding your muscles of the job they have to do. Do what feels right for you – if you are fatigued, dial it back. If something hurts, stretch and take an off day. Now’s the time to begin fueling your body with good food choices and lots of water. And try to squeeze in some extra sleep (something else that is darn near impossible for me).
    You can do this! Just think of that cooler weather you will be heading to!

    • Very doable, except for the Friday part. By the time I drive 15 hours, I don’t know about running 3 miles. 🙂 I totally understand the eating thing. I gained 4 lbs yesterday just by eating pizza. The 13 miles I ran today fixed that! Anyway, I like your comment. My biggest issue is my pain. Even after my run today, I have pain. I want my hip and and achilles feeling better before I start the race. What you wrote will help with that. Thanks! By the way, when is your race? I should know, but my head is spinning right now. 🙂

  5. At some point someone I trusted suggested 80%-60%-40% (of peak mileage) for the last three weeks before the race, so that’s pretty much what I’ve always done & it’s worked fine enough for me. But I also think it’s way, WAY smarter to err on the side of tapering too much rather than too little — when I’ve had particularly sore or heavy legs during taper or something was hurting, I would take extra rest days without a second thought (since fresher legs are always better, & at this point missing one or two shorter runs is pretty much guaranteed not to affect your race).

    Good luck!

    • Thanks! I really appreciate the info. It really is hard knowing what and how much to do when you’ve never done it before. My dad used to run marathons and one over trained and felt like he ran 3 marathons before the race started. I don’t want to do that!!!
      Anyway once again, thank you.

  6. I’m sure it’s different for a full marathon vs a half marathon, but I did 48 miles this week and for my last two weeks of tapering, I’m supposed to do between 30-33 miles each week. (This week, my third to last, is about 36 miles to run). You may need to recover more for the much longer race.

    • That sounds like you will do great on your half. That is great milage! For me, I need to have some time to get past my aches and pains (I have a lot of pain right now). I plan on running about 35 this coming week and 20 next week. I’ll see. Thanks for the help!!!

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Sounds like you have a solid plan. I don’t know how you handle all that heat when running. I hope you get a gorgeous, moderate day for your marathon to take advantage of your heat training.

        • Thank you so much. I hope so too! Right now (13 days out) the forecast is for 55 degrees at the start and going up to 80 during the day. I would be happy with that. Time will tell. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Marathon tapering comments from other bloggers | 278 to Boston

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