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The Tokyo Marathon is now less than 3 weeks away. That means it’s time to “taper” for participants, including myself. The Tokyo Marathon is the first in the Abbott World Marathon Major series. It is followed by the Boston Marathon. This marathon is early in the year compared to most races. It will be held on February 28, 2016. Most spring marathons take place in the months of April or May and most fall marathons take place in October or November. Most of you are not thinking about tapering now, but for those of us running Tokyo, this is an important time. For marathoners running in the spring or fall, save this post for future reference!
I’ve read several articles on tapering and I’ve summarized the basics. Don’t minimize this time. Now is the time to reset, replenish, and repair. It’s easy to feel moody, sick, achy or bloated. In the past I have continued to train hard up until race day, and avoided tapering. I only suffered more on race day. If tapering weren’t so important then there wouldn’t be so much research or recommendations on it out there. Trust your training plan and start tapering.
Week 3: (Three weeks before your marathon)
- Your longest run is behind you. Your long runs over the next couple weeks shouldn’t be more than 12-14 miles. Maintain a similar pace as you have before.
- Decrease total weekly mileage from the previous week by 20%.
- Buy a new pair of shoes if you need them. Now is the time to break them in. I LOVE new shoes. For me, getting new pair of shoes during this time is a way to reward myself for all the hard work I’ve put in. Stick with what you have been wearing all along. Don’t try a new brand or a different type of shoe.
- Eat more protein
- Muscle tissue was damaged during your high mileage phase. Now is the time to recover. Lysine, an amino acid found mostly in meat and fish, will further help your immune functions.
- Avoid hilly courses or hill repetitions! The last thing you need is an injury. Muscle tissue damage occurs during these types of runs, and that needs to be minimized during this time.
- Schedule any massage, chiropractic or physical therapy appointments for this week or next.
- Take in extra Vitamin C!
- This will help prevent a cold or illness during this recovery phase
- Plus vitamin C is good for your joints! Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis. Collagen is a component of ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Daily intake of vitamin C allows your body to produce collagen and keeps your cartilage strong, decreasing joint pain.
- I really like Tart Cherry juice (article). This is my main recovery drink. I add turmeric powder (benefits listed here) to my cherry juice. This combo is really good for inflammation, plus it has so many other benefits.
- Start preparing for race day.
- Think of gear you may need or what you’re going to wear on race day. Order any last minute items you may need.
- Look at course maps.
- Course map for the Tokyo Marathon.
- Figure out how you’re going to get to the start of the race. Train? Taxi?
- Plan out your meal before the race. Where are you going to eat and do you need to make any reservations?
- Confirm hotel or car reservations if you are traveling.
- If you are traveling, finalize any tourist activities before or after the race.
- Make any tour reservations now if you haven’t already done so.
- For those of you traveling to Tokyo, and who are interested in visiting the Imperial Palace, make arrangements now to be granted access to the Palace. Click here to apply. Note: the website might not be working during specific hours. In the USA we are 14 hours behind Japan. I had to wait till a certain hour of the day before I could apply. You must make arrangements ahead of time in order to visit the Palace.
- If you’re traveling with family, make sure they are aware of your plans before race day so there are no surprises or disappointments in the lack of excitement before your race.
- Make any tour reservations now if you haven’t already done so.
- Mileage this week should be ½ to 2/3 of your highest mileage week before tapering.
- Shorter weekday runs should be slow. Don’t try to fit in speed workouts during this time. Adding a few 100m strides in your weekday runs is fine to stay loose. Now is not the time to practice your Yasso 800’s.
- Long runs should be no more than 10-12 miles this week.
- Establish race goals and alternatives.
- Revisit the race website for any final details or instructions. Make sure you know your expo/packet-pickup plans. Tokyo Marathon official website.
- Don’t start dieting now. There will be the temptation to cut back on fat. Don’t! Fat is a necessary back-up when your carb stores are depleted.
- Unsaturated fats are your friend. Like nuts, or fish. Pizza is not a good fat!
- Weight training should stop now. This will continue to cause muscle breakdown. This is your “repair” time.
Week 1 – 1 week before race day!
- Mileage has significantly decreased during this time. Follow your plan and don’t do anything crazy during this time. Running is allowed, just note that nothing you do now will help you on race day, other than keep you loose.
- Gear check.
- Look at the weather and make a final decision on what you’re going to wear. Have a couple options for outfits/clothes just in case the weather changes. You can always buy stuff at the expo or a sporting goods store, but you will end up spending more money and you will be running in something you haven’t run in before. Weather in Tokyo, Japan.
- If you haven’t already begun to increase your carbohydrate intake, do so now. Studies have shown that increasing carbs during the final week to 3 days leading up to a race is most important. 21 days before your marathon you should be taking in more fats and protein (healthy options like avocados or fish).
- Avoid eating anything new during this time. Japan is known for delicious sushi (potentially containing raw fish) and some spicy dishes. A couple days before your race, stick with cooked, bland food, like plain rice.
- Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The night before your race you won’t sleep much. Try to make sure that you are well rested in the days preceding the night before your race.
- I am traveling to Tokyo one week before the marathon so I can get used to the time change. For any overseas marathon, you need to consider the time change when planning your arrival date.
- Don’t do anything new! Now is not the time to start home renovations. Avoid moving heavy pieces of furniture or boxes. Don’t go on some adventurous trail run where you could potentially fall or roll an ankle. I know all about the dangers of doing this.
- Final plans leading up to the big day
- Avoid walking a lot before race day. The day before your marathon pick one easy activity to do, like a bus or boat tour, where you are not walking. Go to a movie or something like that.
- Try to go to the expo 2 days before race day to avoid long lines, and walking for long periods of time. The last thing you need is to stress out before your big day. Tokyo Marathon Expo information.
- Realize that you will probably be stressed out during this time. You will start over analyzing your training. You will start feeling joint or muscle aches you’ve never felt before. This is all normal. Embrace it all. It’s almost over!
After I actually run the Tokyo Marathon myself, I will have more recommendations on what to do in Tokyo the day before the marathon, like bus tours or things that don’t involve much walking. For now, these are basic suggestions to follow during the 3 weeks leading up to our big day!
Please note: I am not a certified running coach. I am only speaking from experience. Most of the above recommendations come from the sources listed below. I summarized what the articles have said and added my own advice as well. Also, I am an Ambassador for the Abbott World Marathon Majors organization.