Why would a Physio be getting involved in one of the great debates on what is essentially a training issue?
Firstly, this Physio is also a qualified sports scientist and an ex international sportsman!
Secondly, the training to get to a marathon is often blighted by injury, which in many cases can be put down to the overload of the programme and a lack of rest within the previous weeks of training. The final 3 weeks are vital to optimal performance on the day and all too often I hear people trying to taper inappropriately for their ability or training level. Of course the 100+ mileage brigade may not feel the need to read this, but sometimes these are the people who often fail to deliver their goal time because the wheels fall off surprisingly early. So, like it or lump it, here it is! Feel free to try it before you outwardly mock it as ‘ridiculous’
3 weeks before the event is the last long run (often the Sunday, but adjust accordingly)
75% of normal training load, same pace settings, same sessions just less duration. 1 extra rest day, preferably at the loss of hill reps or explosive work. A time to focus on the training that is event specific.
50% of training load, again still at the same intensities, but cut out the bulk of the strength and conditioning sessions and no training that your body cannot possibly adapt to fast enough for the coming event.
Week 3 (final week)
Starting from Sunday, this should be 6 miles of marathon pace effort without any increase in speed toward the end of the run.
Monday: 20-40 minute recovery run, with stretch stops, plenty of hydration and keeping the tempo nice and relaxed.
Tuesday: total rest
Wednesday: total rest
Thursday: total rest
Friday: 2 miles at the same time of day that your marathon starts
Saturday: 1 mile at the same time your marathon starts tomorrow.
From Wednesday you should be waking at the same time you need to on Sunday, going through your routine of breakfast, toileting, etc and then the warm up etc prior to starting your run on the Friday and Saturday.
Preparing your body like this provides an in tune body clock, optimal glycogen stores within the muscle and provided you are drinking well, a hydrated body! You should therefore avoid the large toilet queues at the start line, safe in the knowledge you are already prepared in that department.
The common issues people try to acvid are feeling lathargic and detached from running during the taper, with heavy legs on the day!! With this programme you will remove all of these issues on the day, but will often feel them on the wesnesday and Thursday! dont panic, stick with the programme and watch it work for you.
Everyone has an opinion on this sort of thing and of course there are personal preferences, but consider why these long held beliefs are so entrenched, how can someone prove their system works over another?
I suspect it’s what the individual has always done – and if you always do what you’ve always done then you will always get what you always got!!
Lastly, the sports massage quandary! When to take that all important final rub is not something that can be prescribed. The best way to find out is to have a massage before some of your longer runs and space the interval between the couch and the road differently each time. You will soon find out which gap leads to the best outcome!