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How to Strength Train during Your Marathon Taper

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

DON'T make this mistake during your taper!

You've put in the hard work outs.

Race day is 2 weeks away.

And it's time to pull back and start the taper.

One completely avoidable mistake I see: too many runners STOP strength training all together.

I understand you want to be race-ready.

You want fresh legs.

You want to focus on "just running".

But at the same time:

  • You may feel like you're bouncing off the walls with anxious taper energy

  • losing your mind from the lurking aches and niggles.

  • and flip-flopping between "I haven't trained enough" and "I haven't recovered enough".

If this is's how to fix all of that.

By Strength Training during your Marathon Taper.

Let's go.

Strength Training RULES During your Marathon Taper


1-2 sets // 3 exercises // 5 reps at most! //1-2x a week

@ 50-60% 1 RM


Your Favorite Strength Exercise #1

Your Favorite Strength Exercise #2

Your Favorite Strength Exercise #3

No, I'm not kidding.


Of course I'll give you some exercises below...

But there's a few things you need to know first:

The purpose of strength training during your taper:

  • to preserve the strength and power you've spent MONTHS building

  • and to retain that performance edge you've been honing.

Your muscles and tendons use one common language: LOAD.

  • By adjusting the load during your taper and peaking phase, you are effectively telling your muscles to stay as strong as possible with the minimal amount of stimuli

  • (because I get it, you don't want to be sore for race day.)

Because if you don't use it, you lose it.

But don't hear what I'm not saying:

you will not lose all your fitness or strength in 2 weeks if you don't strength train.

But you will perform your BEST if you continue to remind your muscles how to stay strong in the 2 weeks leading up to your race.

However, this "language" or load will look different compared to previous points in your training cycle.

This is deliberate.

There is a purpose.

Because we're looking for a different outcome.

Instead of hypertrophy, while tapering, we're looking to improve your performance for race day.

There are NO magical, specific strength exercises you should do during your taper.

The BEST ONES, however...

  • are the ones you've already been doing your training cycle.

You know how your body responds to them.

You know how you've been progressing the weight you've been using.

And know which ones your body needs even if you don't necessarily like them. ;)

Chose 3 of those.


And plug them into the circuit formula above.

That's now your secret taper-sauce ;)

Let me give you an example of what my strength training would like look during a taper.

How to Strength Train During a Marathon Taper: MY EXAMPLE CIRCUIT


2 sets // 3 exercises // 5 reps //2x a week

@ 50-60% 1 RM


Halos in an elongated Runner's lunge with foot elevated on edge of step

Bulgarian Split Squat with rotation

Overhead Weighted Step Ups


Can you start to see how strength training is the ultimate foundation to your future PRs?

I can promise you...

If you strength train with the circuit formula that I've given you above:

  • you won't be sore for race day; you'll feel strong and ready

  • those nagging aches and niggles will actually begin to feel better because you're gently loading them and reminding them to heal

  • and you'll have somewhere productive to pour all that anxious taper energy into ;) (your family and co-workers will thank you haha)

It's a win-win.


you're exercises DO NOT have to look like mine.

THE BEST STRENGTH TRAINING TAPER EXERCISES are the ones you've already practiced 1000x reps with.

If you want some help brainstorming exercises, I've got a FREE Strength Guide for Runners that can help get you started.

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

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