The purpose of a taper is to make sure you feel at your best on race day. Here are my top tips on how to turn up at the event feeling refreshed, revived, recovered and race ready.
- The duration of a taper is different for everyone, based on personal preference, experience, training period duration, and race duration. Typically you are looking at reducing your volume over a 1-4 week period.
- How much volume? A rough guideline is to reduce your overall volume (average of previous 4 weeks) by 20% each week. As an easy example, if you have average 100km over the past 4 weeks and plan on a 4 week taper (my kind of maths), then 4 weeks out would be reduced to 80km, followed by 60km, 40km, then a very easy race week.
- Intensity! This is a biggie. Just because you are dropping your volume does not mean that all runs are cruisy, nor does it mean it is time to boost your speed and start smashing hill repeats. Simply maintain your regular intensity by keeping up hills, tempo, intervals if this has been part of your regular training.
- Mindset. 90% of running is mental, the other half….. Cognitive fatigue has been shown to reduce overall performance. Make sure you keep your temper tantrums under control and dabble in a little mindfulness to make sure you perform at your best.
- Hot weather. Uh oh. You have started checking the forecast and it is warm! If you are anything like me and you don’t do heat, then there are a couple of strategies you can use to help you survive warm conditions. Heat training involves going for a regular run, then sitting in a spa, sauna, hot bath for 30 – 90 mins (as tolerated). This can help your sweat rate, improving your ability to cool yourself. What I like about the technique is that you can achieve significant results in about a week. Another method is to layer up and go for a run. No fun. Not for me thanks.
- Strength Training. Since you have been working hard to build strength with progressive resistance training over the past few months or years (right??), you want to keep your gainz but minimise the feeling of fatigue in your legs. To achieve this, reduce your sets from 4-5 sets to 2-3. Maintain the same weights, but reduce your reps by at least 2, so that you are stopping at least 2 reps before fatigue. Finally, cut it down to once per week. The other session(s) can be replaced with floga, rolling, mobility, core/gluts, mindfulness, rest…. whatever feels good.
- Mobility. Now is not the time to freak out that you can’t touch your toes and jump into an intense twice-daily stretching regime. You will most likely find after several months of training that you have a few areas around your back, hips and legs that require some attention. Do what feels good. Visit a hands-on therapist if that’s what you enjoy, do a little floga (right here), jump on the roller and spiky ball. Again, do what feels good.