Jeff Dengate on the dreaded taper


My first marathon is about four months away. Which means my first marathon taper is a little more than three months away.

I’m not nervous about the training, nor am I nervous about the marathon. In fact, I’m just plain excited about the marathon and I am currently enjoying the training. But I am honestly nervous about the taper period.

During the prep for my first half marathon last year I experienced the head-game of the taper for the first time. It sucked butt. The struggle is real.

Here’s what Runner’s World Magazine’s Jeff Dengate had to say about the taper in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Runners World:

What strikes more fear into a veteran marathoner than a 20-mile long run with the last five miles at goal pace?

The taper.

That phase at the end of your marathon training plan when you cut back on mileage and catch up on sleep is the best—until it’s the worse. With all that newfound time in your day, every self-doubt is afforded the time to ferment.

Whenever I’m experiencing taper tantrums, I’m so restless and miserable my family wants to murder me. But it’s entirely necessary. Just like cramming for an exam, attempts at last-minute gains are doomed to fail. You should relax and let your body repair the damage from that heavy training load so you can show up to the start in fighting shape.

Runner’s World Magazine Nov Dec 2018

Dengate goes on to say that he reached a compromise over the years. Rather than the standard three-week taper prior to a marathon, he does a 10 day taper. That way his body still has some time to recover from his training, and his family isn’t suffering quite as long.

I’m new to the marathon distance so I’ll sticking to the conventional three-week taper. But in the future, if I learn that the taper makes me a miserable person to be around, I might follow Dengate’s example and trim it down to a week and a half or so.

Photo by Seth Macey on Unsplash


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