Peaking and Tapering
Traditionally- 3 Weeks is the key figure for Long Course
Cut out all racing…. during the last month of your training; you will need certainly three weeks to put the finishing touches to your stamina and reserve energy. When you consider what a vast amount of work you have already completed, you will admit that a fortnight or so longer is a relatively trifling matter. Endeavour to keep all your spare time fully occupied with reading, writing: anything that will keep you still, anything to divert your mind from harping on the forthcoming event. (Noakes, 2003)
Sometimes you may not respond as well to 3 weeks of rest/taper. Here are the conditions:
a) Training volume was not high enough to require an extended recovery period. This would be the case when your preparation for an event has been affected by reduced training volume and you feel your Physical Condition and Recovery leaves you fresh.
b) Your genetic disposition or prioritisation of Physical Wellbeing allows you to recover quickly from both volume and intensity throughout the training cycle. Again monitored by your Physical Condition and Recovery and quality of your Physical Wellbeing intervention.
c) Your training continues to progress on a daily basis and you are avoiding the catabolic hole that most amateur athletes dig themselves during a build to an event.
For Tribal athletes that fit the above conditions, tapering for the final 10-14 days may be your best option.
It’s a personal thing
So 3 or 2 weeks? Actually legendary IronMan athlete Mark Allen would taper for 4 weeks before the Kona World Championships.The optimum taper needs to be determined by you, as an individual, so experimentation is needed of different approaches to see what works for you most affectively for each race distance.
Here’s The Tribal Recommendations
Length of Peak/Taper-
A Peak or Taper period needs to last between 10 days and 4 weeks. The target is to have your freshness and your fitness peak at race day. Ensure you also know your priority races- following this tapering plan is impossible when racing each week- the only way to manage this is to identify your key races and view the other races as training and learning exercises.
The length of the peak or taper is determined by the volume of training you have been completing during your race preparation, the length of the race and your physical condition. The greater your volume and tiredness and the longer the race, the greater the taper.
The focus is on making a radical change to your training volume within the first step (Week) and then gradually shaving away the volume as you move closer to the event. Each session should become progressively shorter through this period.
Here are some examples of how you can step your training volume in the weeks preceeding your race.
4 Week Taper from 15 hours training-
Week 1- 5 hours, Week 2- 10 hours, Week 3- 5 hours, Race Week- 1.5 hours (Not including race time).
3 Week Taper from 12 hours training-
Week 1- 4 hours, Week 2- 7 hours, Race Week- 1.5 hours (Not including race time).
2 Week Taper from 8 hours training-
Week 1- 4.5 hours Race Week- 1.5 hours (Not including race time).
10 Day Taper from 6 hours training-
Initial 5 Days- 3 hours, Race 5 Days- 1.5 hours (Not including race time).
As you move closer to your event, training becomes more specific to your race conditions and intensity is one of the key factors that you can mimic very closely. Race pace efforts should reflect the intensity that you’ll be pacing at on race day. See the Pacing section of Race to identify your intensity targets.
Preferably race pace efforts remain throughout your Taper/Peak period. In the final week, following an appropriate warm up, include 15-30 second Zone 6 efforts in your swim, bike and run- the benefits will be heightened muscle activity and activation.
Ensure you take adequate recovery between each race pace and high intensity effort- it may be 1 day on, 2 days off to prioritise recovery.
As you move closer to your event the amount of reps that you complete will gradually reduce to increase freshness.
Any Zone 1/Zone 2 work should remain strictly easy and not creep into Zone 3.
For health purposes and to promote feelings of vitality, it is important to keep moving. This comes as your daily physical activity- accumulate your 10,000 steps each day and avoid long periods sitting in a compromised position. If you do, maybe travelling to your event- ensure you include regular mobility work to interrupt the bad position.
When driving, stop each couple of hours and complete a pre-determined mobility program.
Insert video, give me a reminder if you don’t see this.
During this Taper/Peak period you may find it difficult to keep resting. Having trained within yourself and reduced your training volume your going to be feeling vital and really excited to test yourself. You have to resist the temptation and save up all that great energy for Race day.
At every opportunity, read, breathe deeply, meditate and focus upon stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system to avoid any pre-race anxiety sapping your energy.
Keep Strength Training During Taper-
Maintenance of strength and posture is your focus here. An extended period without healthy postural practices can leave you feeling boggy.
For maintenance and promotion of freshness, when strength training make sure you avoid lifting rep maximums for any set during this period, instead, work within yourself concentrating on great posture and form.
72 Hour Rule for Running and Strength-
In the last week before your race, choose to strength train early in the week giving yourself 4 clear days before your race. Tribal recommends that you follow the same rule for running- If you do run or strength train in this last 4 days ensure you work within yourself and avoid too much volume.