2 or 3 week taper | 80/20 Endurance

2 or 3 week taper

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m about to run my 11th marathon, but the first using an 80/20 plan.

    All my other marathons have used a three-week taper, but the 80/20 plan is a two week taper. I’m currently in the middle of week 16 and it’s killing me! Such a lot of running so late in the plan. (I secretly like it, but not looking forward to the 20 mile speed play run this weekend).

    What is the thinking behind the two-week taper when I’ve only ever seen three weeks before?


    David Warden


    I’m honored to have an 11-marathon veteran use or plans!

    At the risk of sounding snarky, why a 14 or 21-day taper? Why not a 16, 19, or 24 day taper? Surely, there is an optimal period that is not constrained to an integer calendar week.

    Of course, we use full weeks because most of us are not professional runners, who can make their training blocks be 8 days or 5 days or 12 days instead of a convenient 7 days.

    In reality, there really is an optimal taper period, but it is unique to each athlete. It might actually be 17 days for you and 12 days for someone else.

    But, as a plan author and coach, we write plans for the masses, and it’s a commercial decision to use full week increments.

    What you are really asking is: accepting the constraint and limited options of either a 2 or 3-weeks taper, why do you use 2 weeks?

    We feel that the empirical evidence leans towards a shorter taper over a longer taper, and so we skew the “typical” runner to 2 weeks. Remember, it also depends on how aggressive the taper is. A 3 week taper will be less aggressive than a 2-week taper, and our two week taper is aggressive.



    Thanks David – you’re right in the second half of your response that I mean why two, rather than three, given real world constraints.

    I have no doubt that there is empirical evidence, which I know is the backbone of the plans, so I was interested in what this evidence is. You also make the point that it varies by athlete, so you’ve aggregated it to a typical runner, which also makes sense.

    I am exhausted after today’s RF11, especially knowing I’ve got such a long run at the weekend. It certainly feels like an aggressive taper! I’m looking forward to learning the result of this hard work.

    My first few marathons were with unstructured plans, but the last four or five used the MY ASICS plan, which is probably as far from 80/20 as you can get. But I used 80/20 for a half marathon last November and smashed my PB.

    David Warden


    The best research that supports the 2-week taper is Effects of tapering on performance: a meta-analysis. This study looked at 168 other studies on tapering (a meta study). 168 studies was enough to convince us to maintain our 2-week taper in all plans.

    But, the real empirical data is your half marathon PB from last year!



    Thanks for the link David. I’ve just heard my marathon has been cancelled. That’s the second one this year that’s been cancelled during week 16! I can’t believe it.

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