Blog post

Ace your Tapering for your BIG race

 

 

Written by Marike Vreken

8 May 2022

As you near your goal race or races for the season it is important to think about the taper period. This phase of training is crucial to performance but is often over-looked.  Here’s how to get it right:

Tapering helps you achieve a fitness peak through reduced training volume in the weeks immediately before your event.  Within two weeks of the event, it’s unlikely that further training will increase your fitness or make a significant difference in your performance.  Shedding accumulated training fatigue can be quite beneficial, though.  Essentially, it’s a trade-off— you miss a small number of fitness gains to feel fresher on race day.  A taper includes intense workouts specific to your event to keep those energy systems polished.  Tapering progressively reduces training volume and TSS to help shed fatigue.

One to two weeks before your “A race” further fitness gains are unlikely, i.e. the work is done.  The temptation to train more should be met with firm resistance.  Instead, consider a well-planned taper, starting 10 – 14 days before your big race.  By now you’ve done countless intervals in all lengths and amounts.  You’re in the best shape of your life and your ready to do whatever it takes to get that big result at your goal event.  But remember all the work you’ve done, the sacrifices you’ve made, and it was difficult.  Now it’s time to rest.  Don’t stop training, rather gradually decrease you training load by 60-90% each week leading up to your important race.  So, even though fitness will decrease slightly during a taper, the greater lack of fatigue means performance will be better.

In my experience the length of your taper will depend on your age and the size of your build (as measured by your CTL).  Most cyclists will benefit from a two-week taper.  Younger athletes in their 20’s, because they recover faster, tend to peak after a 10-day taper.  Older cyclists who recover slower need a two to three-week taper.  Here is an example 2-week taper:

Instead of going out and hammering your usual 15 minute climb, consider designing out a 2 week taper like the one above for your training.  Taper further down even further the next week.  Instead of spending 3 hours in Zone 2, try 90 minutes the first week and just 1 hour the next.  The idea is to stimulate the body just enough to remain fit and fast but to allow enough time for your body to adapt, overcompensate and turn you into the supa’ fast cyclist that you were born to be!

A longer race will require a longer taper period.  This is particularly the case for ultra-marathons, 24hr events or stage races.  

As the race progresses your levels of fatigue are increasing and therefore it is important to start the event with super-fresh legs.

We have designed a typical 2-week taper plan for you, with your goal event being on a Friday, such as the 36ONE, or the Friday of a Stage race.  You can access the training plan on the Training Peaks store, and use the promotion code

AM36ONE

for a 25% discount on this plan

The plan can be accessed here.

You are welcome to contact me, Marike (marike@vreken.co.za), should you require any advice on your tapering for your goal event.

BLOG POSTS

You May Also Like

Why do you need a coach?

Why do you need a coach?

At the recent SA XCO Champs I again saw the joy and disappointment of athletes as they crossed the finish line. It...

Energy Systems

Energy Systems

Have you ever asked yourself why we have training zones? Well, the short answer is, so that you can develop your...