Tapering for Triathlon
Tapering for Triathlon
By D3 Staff
The age old question of tapering has and still hampers many a triathlete’s racing/training programs. For all the so called experts out there telling us what their World Champion ‘whoever’ does or as a coach to the stars suggests… (No doubt based off of some biblical version of stone tablets they retrieved from the mountain home of the Greek Goddess of Victory ‘Nike’, there is a counter-balance.) Do we use a four, three, two or one week taper? How much speed work during the final weeks, coupled with rest, massage, and Zen-like meditation needs to be included to optimize our taper? You may wish to train right through a race; or key in on what you or your coach believed to be the ideal taper, but how ideal is it? For who is it ideal for? And how do we know this really is best for us? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a real life ‘Miss Cleo’ in our corner for predicting what we really need to do for our tapers.
I’m not talking pounding a 16 oz bag of Doritos, a six pack of beer, or doing the TV taper the last three weeks. There are certain do’s and do nots before your top A race taper. DO get enough sleep, ideal nutrition, limber up, and try to make the stresses in your life as little as possible. How much training, or speed work you do leading into a primary goal depends on the goal, and that can be discussed with a competent coach. Ever hear of the K.I.S.S. method that works for just about anything? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. No need to read volumes of training books from authors who claim to have all the answers. What many want you to think is that there really is a magic formula, and why not? It helps sales of their books or seminar attendance. The best taper indicator is your own intuition. You know when you are tired, or not eating well enough, or have limited mobility from lack of stretching.
If you have a coach your progress should have been tracked, and together you should have an idea of how much rest you need for optimal performance. The volume and intensity, and how it affected your training, is written somewhere in your training log for example. Check your log, think back to previous similar races, not enough rest or nutrition, or whatever else before a race, then change it. Taking your vitamins, eight hours of sleep a night when you can, or shorter sleep with a nap to get that full eight, or power naps. Work with it in training. Too much intensity just before any distance race will nuke you on race day. Likewise, too much distance just a few weeks before a race of any distance will do the same. Your resting heart rate can help you with monitoring your recovery, so will learning about how each and every workout affects you on a daily basis.
K.I.S.S. when it comes to tapering. Learn from your logs and yourself from your own body’s feedback daily. A book and coach (no matter how good they are), cannot tell you if your body is ready for race day (however, they can help with proper training for a race.) Isn’t the best counter-balance for training– rest? Of course it is. Reduce the volume, intensity; absorb the recovery from all the damage you have dealt yourself. Now go out and learn from yourself just how much of it (rest) you need to pop off that dream race. Remember, what is good for the goose isn’t really good for the gander… it may only be specifically good for the goose.