John Feeney’s marathon training tips - week five

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ARE you training for a marathon this year? Do you want some inside knowledge on how to get the best out of your training, or hints and tips to help you on the way?

Each week we will be bringing you the training diary of endurance sport specialist John Feeney.

He is writing a weekly schedule on topics covering everything from running physiology and training to choosing the right footwear, recovery and tapering.

For week five, Feeney writes: With just five weeks remaining until the Brighton Marathon, you should now be reaching the business end of your training and building towards your longest runs. It’s certainly been a long, hard winter for training but the end is now in sight and so it’s time to start planning your taper period.

This is arguably one of the most important parts of your training and can be described as a reduction in training load in designed to optimise performance.

The aim is to reduce fatigue without losing any training adaptations so you arrive at the start line feeling physically and psychologically refreshed and raring to go.

Firstly, when planning your taper strategy, try and ensure the intensity of your training is maintained.

If you run at a certain pace for your threshold/high-intensity training sessions then continue at this same pace. This will help avoid the potential for any de-training effect.

Secondly, you should aim to reduce volume progressively to approximately 60 to 90 per cent of your pre-taper volume, although this is dependent on you as an individual.

Thirdly, for more experienced runners, try to maintain the frequency of your training sessions or reduce it slightly (by approximately 20 per cent). This also helps prevent de-training and can have psychological benefits.

However, for less experienced runners, frequency can be reduced by 30 to 50 per cent without any loss of training adaptations.

Finally, it’s important to remember that your taper period will not produce miracles or make up for inadequate training.

Tapering is usually effective, but the maximum gains you can expect are likely to be around three per cent.

The optimum taper period for a marathon is likely to be 14 to 21 days depending on you training status and experience.