Why Do Runners Get Sick When Tapering for a Marathon?


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Training for a marathon? It takes many months to correctly prepare and put together for a marathon. During the later half of this coaching interval, most runners select to dramatically in the reduction of on their mileage in the weeks earlier than the race.

After the hard exercises are carried out, it’s tempting to only sit again on the sofa and load up on carbohydrates with a massive plate of pasta. But don’t let your guard down too much, since many athletes get sick previous to a massive occasion.

Here’s a have a look at why runners may fall unwell earlier than a marathon and the way to stop it from taking place to you.

The taper weeks

Tapering is the final step in a marathon coaching routine. This is the apply of lowering the space and size of your exercises in order to present your body time to relaxation and get well earlier than the race.

Depending in your working plan, your taper will probably begin two or three weeks earlier than the race. Your mileage will lower considerably throughout this time. Your final and most likely longest distance run (probably 18 to twenty miles) must be accomplished earlier than you begin to taper.

It’s essential to maintain up with shorter runs and exercises over the last weeks of coaching to keep up the level of health that you just labored so hard to succeed in. The hard exercises are over, but you still need to keep in form.

Your body ought to really feel relaxed and prepared on race day, not sluggish and heavy. That being mentioned, many runners get nervous and overtrain as a substitute of backing off.

Runners and immunity

In common, reasonable runners, health lovers, and grasp’s athletes are a healthy bunch. When requested, 60 to 90 p.c of these people reported having fewer colds than their friends who didn’t work out.

But elite and endurance athletes who prepare extra intensely may be at a better danger for higher respiratory tract infections (URTI). A research revealed in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical FitnessTrusted Source discovered that many Los Angeles marathon members self-reported infectious episodes each in periods of intense coaching and after the race.

Why? Experts consider immune perform may be altered and might even be suppressed for a interval of time after extended or intensive exercise.

According to Dr. David Neiman’s open window theoryTrusted Source, in the three to 72 hours after an intensive coaching session or race, your immunity could also be suppressed. That means it may be simpler for viruses and bacteria to take maintain, rising your danger for an infection.

If tapering begins instantly after your most intense interval of coaching, the open window idea would clarify why runners get sick throughout this time. But extra analysis is required to know precisely what’s taking place to the immune system in endurance athletes.

Regardless, it’s particularly essential to relaxation and not overexert your self each earlier than and after a marathon.


Think about your marathon taper as a quick breather earlier than the principle occasion. You’ll in the reduction of on exercises, leaving extra time for rest and relaxation.

Here are some methods to remain healthy whereas tapering earlier than a race.

1. Don’t go carb loopy.

Adding an additional serving of carbs to every meal the week earlier than the race is a good thought. Carbohydrate loading can increase the amount of glycogen in your muscular tissues, supplying you with extra energy for an endurance occasion. But don’t go overboard on bread and pasta. Runners who eat too many carbs might expertise weight achieve, mostly from water weight. This can sluggish you down on race day.

To keep away from this, stick with your regular diet as much as attainable. Adding a banana or small piece of bread to every meal provides you with the additional energy you want. The evening earlier than the race, eat a well-balanced meal: a good amount of high quality carbs with a stability of healthy proteins and fat.

2. Don’t strive something new.

If you’re about to run a marathon, this isn’t the time to strive any new actions like backcountry snowboarding or bungee leaping. You need to keep injury-free and let your body relaxation earlier than the race. If you’re working a vacation spot race, stick with mild strolling and schedule sightseeing for after the race.

Also keep away from the urge to strive new foods like lentils or turnip greens for the primary time. Untested foods might result in gastrointestinal points throughout your race. Sticking to your common diet as much as attainable will hold your digestive monitor glad.

3. Hydrate.

You know you should keep adequately hydrated earlier than your race. It helps improve efficiency, and dehydration can damage your efficiency.

Steer clear of alcohol, coffee, and soda when attainable.

4. Avoid overtraining.

It’s pure to be nervous earlier than the marathon. Most runners query in the event that they skilled hard sufficient to make it through, particularly if it’s their first race. But it’s essential to belief the coaching and miles you place in. Overtraining previous to the race will simply depart you fatigued and irritable in the beginning line.

5. Sleep.

It’s essential to get lots of relaxation in the week earlier than a marathon. Resting your body will show you how to get well from coaching. Even in case your nerves hold you from getting much sleep the evening earlier than the race, you’ll still really feel nice in the beginning line.

When to skip the race

After months of planning, coaching, and anticipation, it may be robust to resolve whether or not or not you must skip the race since you’re sick. But working whilst you’re severely unwell or injured will be harmful.

Consider the neck rule. If your signs are above the neck, like a runny nostril or sore throat, you most likely gained’t endanger your self by racing.

But if it’s one thing extra critical like a chest chilly, bronchitis, or a full body ache, you should take time without work and see your doctor. If you will have a fever above 99˚F, keep home. There will at all times be one other race to enroll for.

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