(Article written for City Fitness - November's national newsletter).
If you are targeting a key event, then you'll probably have some kind of strategy to freshen up for the race. This last is called portion of your training is called 'Tapering", and the way you approach it can make a big difference.
Tapering is essentially doing very little training after a period of higher volume training. The rationale is that by allowing for a lighter period of training to freshen up the body, you lose only a little in terms of fitness, but gain a lot in terms of the residual fatigue lifting from your body. However (in my opinion), tapering should not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Differing approaches may work with differing degrees of success for differing athletes.
For some athletes, to "Taper" can mean a 10% reduction in volume, while keeping the intensity the same. Others will go for a 50% reduction in volume while also dropping top end intensity from sessions. Having an awareness that tapering can mean different things gives you the ability to tailor your final two weeks to your event. It also allows you to do what works specifically for you. For me personally, an approach of ultra high volume, followed by next to no training for two weeks is the ideal - other approaches have been attempted, but they tend to leave me overdone on race day.
A few tips...
- The degree to which you take your foot off the pedal will often depend on the volume of training youhave been doing. (Ironman will see a longer taper than an Olympic distance triathlon).
- Be prepared to try new approaches to see what works for you. (What works for you may not work for others, and vice versa).
- The frequency of training will remain about the same. (So if you normally train five times a week, then you'll simply have five shorter / easier training sessions).
- You'll probably feel like climbing the walls in the second week. (Squeezing in last minute training is counterproductive, and will leave you short of your potential for your big events).
- Carbo loading works. (But this doesn't mean you need to eat more than normal. Simply eat more carbs).
Aim to get to the start line in tip top shape, with a good state of mind, and a happy demeanour. Tapering will assist you in your pursuit to do your best, and when you consider the time and money you invest into your chosen sport it would make sense to get as much as you can out of your big events.
Tapering can be the difference between finishing...and finishing where you want to. Try what has worked for others, read up on what may work for you, and be prepared to do things differently if you are not 100% happy with results. You can succeed - It is the approach that will see you there.
The Taupo Challenge will see 10,000 cyclists take to the roads around Taupo late in November. I sincerely wish all cityfitness club members who participate the very best for their big day out. Take it easy for the week to ten days before the event, and feel free to add me to your Facebook page to let me know how you get on. Make it your day :)
Link to City Fitness article located here...