It’s Tuesday again, which means I’m all linked up with Cynthia from You Signed Up For What to get our triathlon chatter on! The beautiful Miranda from the Cupcake Triathlete is taking a small break while she goes to do some kick ass training and life related things.
Today, in honor of my impending half Ironman this Sunday, we’re discussing The Taper! The taper, oh tapering.
First of all, what is a taper? This is the period before a race where you scale back your training efforts. Primarily volume and frequency, but research shows that you should continue to keep up intensity as that is what preserves fitness during lower levels of workout frequency and load. Taper periods are usually one to two weeks long depending on how long of a training cycle you had and how long your upcoming race is. I have a two week taper for my 70.3 which is plenty long enough.
The taper, however, can be a difficult time for us crazed athletes. Time we typically fill with training is now becoming down time and with a looming race to obsess over this isn’t always good. All the energy expenditure is now being channeled emotionally and that can cause a bit of stir craziness and madness. So, how do you survive the taper?
1. Keep Occupied– You have some new free time you’re not used to now, so use it wisely. Walk your dog, go out and be social for once, or maybe even deep clean your house (because we all know this one gets left off when we run out of hours in the day, duh) Keeping busy will keep you out of your head. Prevent the madness!
2. Recover– This is mostly the point of tapering anyways, to make sure your muscles and body are fully recovered, fresh, and primed for racing. So take some naps, get up a little later than usual, stretch, foam roll, stretch again, do yoga, stretch so more, whatever it takes to recover you.
3. Fuel Accordingly– You should focus on clean, simple, easy to digest meals that are filled with protein, good fats, and loads of complex carbs. You need your glycogen stores full and ready for action. To carbo load you should be increasing your carb intake daily for the last four to five days until you are at about 85-90% carb intake the day before your race.
4. Hydrate Accordingly Too– Water, water, water! Start jacking up that water intake about a week out. You want to fully and properly hydrate your body and do to so you need to be chugging the H20 hard for at least a few days to a full week leading up to your big event. Swigging some electrolyte drink the day before is a good idea too that a lot of people swear by.
5. Trust Your Training– Again, it’s hard not to go a bit stir crazy during the taper. You cannot and will not make any significant fitness gains in that last week or two before a race. And it’s far more important to be well rested and physically recovered going into your race than trying to cram in just one more workout. If you have been training for this race then you need to trust that what you have done and put in will be enough to get you over the finish line. Because it is. I look back at my training and question, hem and haw, and scrutinize plenty. But at the end of the day that doesn’t make me any stronger, faster, or more skilled. Trust you training!
Tapering can really make you go mad and stress over everything. But if you keep calm, stretch, relax, fuel and hydrate you’ll go into race day feeling good. And if you feel great, you’ll do great!