Racing Disney: The Importance of Tapering

January 4, 2016 ,

12188240_1281529385206354_2546449661024739229_o This week thousands will be at Disney World for the races of the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend. I will be there running the Dopey Challenge, which is the 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon. This is a total of 43 miles over 4 days.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. But I’ll also admit, I’m a bit nervous. The WDW Marathon that rounds out the Dopey Challenge will be my first ever marathon. So some of my nervousness is first time jitters, some of it is my anxiety telling me I bit off more than I can chew, some of it is feeling like I’m not properly trained. But talk to almost any runner and they will tell you the worst time for pre-race nerves is the week to 2 weeks before a big race. This is because for longer distances, like the Marathon, tapering has started, which for many can feel like a time of helplessness.

Tapering is when you back off on your training, run less, and rest more. To many people this is counter intuitive, as you want to get in as much training and practice at longer distances as possible before the race. However, tapering is important because it allows your body some time to rest, which gives you optimal performance during your race.

Countless studies show that 2-3 weeks of tapering before a big race will prevent cumulative fatigue, which results in better performance and less fatigue during the race.

Now, tapering does not mean that you don’t run at all during the last 2-3 weeks of your training, but that you are backing off on your long runs. For example: during Dopey Training the last long run was the week of Dec 20, which was essentially a 4 day simulation of the miles run during Dopey. But after that, the running goes back to 2 maintenance runs and no more than 7 miles for a long run leading up to the event itself.

If you find yourself a bit behind on your training, please make sure you give yourself at least 1 week of taper before your race. You are more likely to succeed if you do that, than if you are running long distance right up to your race day. This is especially true if you are running any of the runDisney challenges or the marathon, but tapering before a half marathon is also a good idea.

Good luck to everyone who is running any of the races during the WDW Marathon weekend next week or the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon weeekend the following week. I’ll be at both so if you see me say hi!


TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark and Tali McPike. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them at

If you are planning on running in a runDisney event and have questions, or have participated and want to talk about your experiences make sure you visit our runDisney Forum at

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