Competitive Race Taper

What is a taper?

A taper is considered to be a period of time where the volume of training is reduced in the days or weeks leading up to a key event to prevent training-induced fatigue from impacting your performance on the day. It isn’t done for every event just the one or two a year that you have pre-determined to be your key objectives for peak performance. The key to a well executed taper period is finding the best balance between recovery and sustained training. A structured taper will allow the body to recover from the accumulated fatigue of hard training without reversing the affects of training adaptation. The best training in the world can all be wasted with an ineffective taper period. Get it right and you’ll fly on the day, get it wrong and you’ll not be competing to your full potential. A taper is a cross between a rest period and an activity period. You still stress your body before a key event, you just do it for a shorter activity period, which gives you a longer recovery period. You get to “rest” rest, after your key event! Tapering isn’t resting! Don’t confuse the two.

Remember the FIT Principle

Good training is all about manipulating three critical factors to get the maximum return on your training investment. In general, a good training program relies on adjusting the Frequency, Intensity and Time (duration) of your workouts to physically overstretch your body to create a sustainable adaptation to your training load. The key word is “sustainable.” You can’t overstretch your body indefinitely. You need to schedule active rest, recovery and adaptation periods in to your training plan, then finish it off with an equally well planned taper period. You cannot write a cookie cutter template taper that works for everyone. Each individual needs to find the taper that works best. General guidelines to follow:

Frequency has to remain around 80% of previous training patterns.
Intensity has to remain at or above that of competition level.
Time (volume) has to decrease by at least 50-60%.

Cross Training—-Avoiding Overtraining
Strength Training 
Sport Specific movements/specialized skills

Remember your Periodization
Post season, Off-season, Preseason, Inseason

The Benefits
Research suggests that a well planned and executed taper can lead to an increase in oxygen uptake, an increase in muscle glycogen levels and an increase in an athlete’s strength and power.

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