What is tapering?
This is a common piece of the training puzzle that is often done incorrectly. Tapering is reducing the amount of activity 1-2 weeks prior to a race! Many swimmers, marathon runners and endurance athletes employ this method before a distance event in order to optimize on the hard work that’s already been done and give that body the break it needs to perform well during the race!
There are various ways to taper, depending on the sport and timing of your race. The basic gist is to understand that tapering does not mean eliminating exercise before an event. It means reducing the volume of it to allow an athlete to performance optimally! All of the adaptations from the training should be kept while overtraining and fatigue should be eliminated by way of a proper taper technique. It’s important to note that every athlete is different and will need a different tapering strategy. Regardless of the level of the athlete, this is a crucial part of training for a race that cannot be nixed!
How do I know how long I should taper for?
As I've mentioned briefly above, this is highly contingent on your personal athletic needs and what you and your Coach agree upon for your tapering strategy. For me, I personally need 1 solid week to make use of this taping period. This gives me adequate time to get my legs fresh without experiencing any burnout ot under training before a race. Quite often, some athletes need closer to 2 weeks to taper before a race, as discussed by The Run S.M.A.R.T Project. However, the amount of time needed varies based on each individual's personal needs. I make sure that I do not decondition myself by still performing my workouts and training days as is, but to a lesser extreme with less volume overall during taper week. This allows me to optimize on my performance and to perform my best in my races!
Is tapering is a good time to eat heather?
Absolutely! However, there is often an extreme that can go to far where not enough nutrient dense foods are being eaten due to the lower volume of the athletes activity. That can cause injuries and even worse, forcing yourself to pull yourself out of your competition on race day. I'm speaking first hand from it! Be cognizant of what you're consuming and be sure your e Hersey expenditure doesn't outweigh the nutrients and calories that you're consuming. We don't want you wasting away!
What are the key staples to understanding about tapering?
Be diligent about your training volume, but don't eliminate your workouts. Stay consistent, but don't overdo it. Work with a fellow athlete, or your Coach to help you figure out a tapering strategy and nutrition guidance that works best for you! Give this strategy a go in your own training. Let me know how it goes and how your race turns out!
What's your go-to taper routine? Do you have more than one for different distances? Let's talk about it below and start a conversation. Add your comment and let us know what works best for you!