In the past weeks, you’ve dedicated yourself to training, and now your half marathon is just around the corner. But before you step up to that starting line, you have to maximize the taper period! 

This strategic phase can make the difference between running a mediocre half marathon and achieving a personal best on race day.  

So, if you’re gearing up to smash your goals, here are some tips for tapering correctly for a half marathon!

Step-by-Step Guide to Tapering for a Half Marathon 

When you taper correctly, your performance improves by 0.5 to 6.0 percent. However, the best way to get the best out of your half marathon taper is through careful planning. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to do it. 

Step 1: Determine Your Tapering Period 

Most training schedules include a 2-week tapering period because it allows for adequate recovery from training and prepares you for the race.

In some cases, runners may extend the taper to 3 weeks, especially if they are recovering from an injury or following an extended 18-week training plan.

Tapering for less than 2 weeks is not recommended as it does not give your body sufficient time to recover fully. You should begin the tapering phase 2-3 weeks before the race day.

Step 2: Reduce Mileage Gradually

interval running

Tapering a week before a half marathon is critical for optimizing your performance through a tapering phase. Therefore, decrease the distance you run to allow your body to rest and recover before the race. 

However, instead of eliminating runs, shorten your usual distances by about 20-30% each week before the race. 

Step 3: Maintain Key Workouts

An important part of tapering is maintaining the intensity of your workouts. This is often overlooked, but it’s essential to prevent losing fitness. Keep up at least 80 percent of your usual training frequency, but reduce the volume by 60 to 90 percent. 

An advantage of tapering before a half marathon is getting accustomed to your race pace. Even though you’re running shorter distances, include some speed work, like intervals or steady-state runs, to practice your race pace. 

Step 4: Prioritize Rest and Recovery


The most important thing during the weeks leading up to your race is to rest. You’ve already done most of the hard training by now, so engaging in extra workouts will make you tired.

Instead, focus on letting your body recover. Sleep well, use tools like foam rollers to loosen your muscles, and do whatever helps you feel your best.

Step 5: Visualize Race Day

Visualization is a powerful tool for managing your mental state during taper. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line strong and confident. 

Thinking about the race itself can be helpful. It helps you anticipate challenges and mentally prepare for different scenarios that may arise during the race. 

Furthermore, it allows you to create a mental blueprint of how you want the race to unfold. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the race.

Step 6: Develop a Race Strategy

Having a plan helps you feel prepared and reduces pre-race jitters. You’ll know exactly what pace you’ll aim for, when to take energy gels, and how to tackle different parts of the course.

A well-thought-out strategy will help you avoid starting too fast and burning out later. It ensures you pace yourself efficiently for a strong finish. 

Here’s how to craft your winning plan:

Step 7: Stay Active with Cross-Training


In the last week or so before your race, take it a bit easier on your workouts. Skip those intense strength training sessions and new high-energy fitness classes. 

Instead, focus on activities similar to running but gentler on your body. If you usually do cross-training, try light options like walking on an inclined treadmill or shorter bike rides at a moderate pace. 

Moreover, strength training can be reduced. You can skip it entirely or do just one light session early in the week. Focus on doing lots of repetitions with light weights instead of heavy lifting. Talk to your coach if you’re unsure which exercises to choose.

Step 8: Monitor Fatigue and Recovery

Strike a balance between staying active and allowing your body to recover fully. 

Here’s how to monitor your fatigue and recovery:

Signs of Good Recovery

Signs of Overtraining or Under-Recovery

If you notice signs of under-recovery, adjust your training accordingly. Take an extra rest day, shorten your runs, or reduce intensity. Prioritize sleep, nutrition, and hydration to support your body’s recovery efforts.

However, if you’re feeling overly fresh and energetic, a slight increase in training volume (think adding a short, easy run) might be okay. But don’t push yourself too hard at this late stage.

Step 9: Adjust Nutrition and Hydration

While you’re taking it easier with training, what you eat and drink becomes even more important! 

Here’s a simple guide to keep you energized and hydrated:

Step 10: Make Final Week Preparations

The week before your race is about getting ready for the big day! Take some time to study the race course. This could involve looking at a map or driving or biking the route. Familiarize yourself with any hills, water stations, and bathroom locations.

If you plan to use energy gels or snacks during the race, decide when and where you’ll take them. Will you rely solely on aid stations or bring your supplies? 

Finally, take a few minutes each day to imagine yourself running the course smoothly and reaching the finish line. 

Final Thoughts

Tapering before running a half marathon is crucial in your training journey. Following these ten steps into your routine will give your body the rest and focus it needs to perform at its best on race day. 

So, follow this guide, listen to your body, and trust your training. With a well-executed taper, you’ll be well on your way to conquering your half marathon goals. Have a fantastic run!