Marathon Taper Tips – Getting to the Start Line

Tapering advice

Ah, the marathon taper … here’s what I learned from a pre-marathon workshop with Barry Crane at Run and Become in London.

I wanted to share some of the advice given as taper time can be rough. It’s when all the niggles and concerns can get blown out of proportion. There’s a lot of excitement mixed with fear about whether you’ll get to the start line and if you can do this. I wonder if anyone ever truly thinks they’ve done enough?

This is only my second marathon with my first being a disaster. I am not an expert – I’m passing on the advice I’ve been given. My aim is to get to the start line fit, healthy and injury free (even though at the moment I feel remarkably unfit despite my 18 and 20 mile runs). I also want to have a great day. I have a time goal in mind but I have to see how things are on the day. If it’s a warm day, I’ll need to adjust accordingly.

The first piece of advice is this should be a really enjoyable time. You’ve got the cardiovascular base. The aim now is to get to race day a little stronger and pain and injury free. If you do have pain that seems more than a niggle that will disappear by itself, now is the time to get it sorted.

So here goes….headspace, keeping physically active, nutrition and other random bit of advice…the next 3 weeks.


Photo Barry Crane and Sophie - marathon taper tips
With Barry Crane at Run and Become


  • At some point in the coming weeks, the nerves and the doubts are likely to kick in. The miles are reduced so there’s nowhere for that nervous energy to go.
  • Try to let your headspace settle. If you’re into mindfulness, practise that. Or use distraction methods. Go see a movie, go for a walk. Put down all those books and magazines about running. Hang out with friends. Laugh.


Physical Activity

  • First to say the amount you do over the taper period is very individual. Some folks feel great at the start line having done very few miles over the taper period, others will feel sluggish. Stick to your plan.
  • SLEEP – recovery is key and this is the time to save your legs. Marathon training is tough, sleep is essential to good recovery.
  • Focus on quality running – are there some different drills you could be doing improving your form a little? But, take it easy. This is not the time to injure yourself!
  • Look at areas you could work on in a low-impact way like flexibility. For me, I’ll do a little more on the core, stretching and pilates. My weak spot is my hip flexors. The work I’ve done since January has really helped. I just have to keep it going.
  • Think about going for a swim, doing a yoga class… The main thing is to let your legs rest.



  • Liquids are key – keep yourself hydrated though don’t overdo it.
  • Salt – now I’m a big fan of salt so liked this one – get some salt in your diet (unless of course you’ve got a medical condition in which case seek advice on this one). I don’t know about you but I get salt streaks on my face on long runs – a very attractive look I must say!
  • Carb-loading – according to Barry, this is not needed. You might want to eat a little more the day before but don’t overdo it and stick to what you’ve done in training. This counters other advice I’ve heard. I have a half on Sunday so will test out a little.
  • Caffeine – for some folks, supplements like caffeine can be an issue. Again, replicate what has worked for you in training. Thankfully I’ve been training with caffeine gels!



  • Wear nothing new on race day. That charity top – wear it on your runs now. New shoes – don’t make the first outing on the day. Socks – wear them in. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!
  • Expo – if you can get to it earlier in the week, do. Save those feet and legs of yours.


I’ll be doing a post in the next couple of weeks about the night before and what to expect on the day – general points as well as points specific to running the London Marathon.



Happy taper time!


Have you any additional advice for tapering? What has and hasn’t worked for you?



And while you’re here

I’m running the London Marathon to support a wonderful organisation called Free to Run. You can read more about my #reasontorun here.

Please support – any amount gratefully received whether it’s £1 or $1 or £100 or $100. You can go to my JustGiving page here.


(April 2017)


Keep Calm and Taper On image sourced from

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