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London Marathon – Overtraining and Tapering

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When training for a marathon you may find yourself pushing your body too hard called overtraining.  Overtrainng can lead to long term reduced performance and the inability to train.  Signs to look out for which can be symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Unexplained and consistently poor performance
  • High levels of fatigue and tiredness
  • Recovery taking longer after training sessions
  • Change in your mood ie. General fatigue, depression, loss of motivation and irritability
  • Muscles and joints consistently feeling sore and stiff
  • Resting heart rate increased
  • Injuries from overuse
  • Decreased immunity – more susceptible to feeling unwell
  • Unable to sleep
  • Reduced appetite

Advice on avoiding overtraining

  • Make sure stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids particulary water
  • Keep a good healthy diet with enough carbohydrates and try to eat within 30 mins after exercise to help food stored as the energy store glycogen rather than fat
  • Make sure the training goals you set for yourself are achievable and to your ability not the ability of a training companion or friend
  • Keep you training as varied as possible including interval training and resistance training as well as long runs
  • Make sure take time off from training to recover


  • Tapering means reducing your training approximately 2-3 weeks before the marathon race so that you perform at your maximum on the day
  • It is not advised to cut out training completely but to reduce the training volume and intensity
  • The tapering will help to reduce muscle damage, fatigue during the race and help keep your carbohydrate energy stores up to the maximum ready for the big race
  • For example at the weekends do half a marathon 2- 3 weeks before and then halve that to 6.5 miles 1-2 weeks before
  • Tapering will not reduce your fitness as by reducing your training to half or a third of what it was cardio fitness will still be maintained for approx 8 weeks