Tri Talk Tuesday – How to Taper For a Race

Holla, it’s Tuesday. I’m already tired and confused as to why it’s not Friday. But maybe that’s just me. I’m here with You Signed Up For What to chat again because it is Tri Talk Tuesday!

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Today we’re talking about the Taper! We’ve discussed the taper before, namely how to keep calm during that time leading up to a race when you’re backing off your training and freaking the bee-jeebus out! Today’s a bit different. This post is very much more along the lines of why we taper and how to taper for a race. Although if you want specific tapering advice shoot me an email!

So, why do we taper?


Tapering allows us time to recover and feel fresh going into a race, first a foremost. We spend so much time training and sometimes we don’t realize just how hard that can be on our bodies. By tapering we allow our bodies and muscles to recover. However, tapering is a balancing act.Finding the right amount of rest compared to the right amount of continuing to workout is super important. If you don’t scale back enough you go into your race still fatigued. If you scale back too much your fitness will begin to regress.

taper meme

Sometimes we don’t always taper. I had a jam packed schedule this year including four straight race weekends in a row. There’s no tapering when your races are that close together. And sometimes our fitness is strong enough that for some races that we don’t need to taper. I don’t taper for short distances races like 5k or 10k races. And even sprint triathlons I can get away with a one week or shorter taper. And sometimes when we have a big race on the horizon we train through certain races. Some races are used purely for training and tapering before them is unnecessary.

How long do we taper for? That depends on a few factors, primarily the distance of the race. For most races the taper will be about two weeks. For shorter races you can definitely have a shorter taper. A two week taper would include a cut back in the first week, then a second cutback in the second week, leaving you doing just enough to maintain that fitness you’ve worked so hard to build while letting your body recover for it’s upcoming beating.

Not sure about it yet? A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found a successful taper improves performance by an average of 3%. That may not sound like much, but think about a marathon for a minute. A 3% performance gain during a full marathon means over five minutes difference. Consider someone it trying to qualify for Boston; five minutes is a huge difference when you have a tight and difficult time cut off to try and make. So that 3% suddenly become a huge deal.

So taper, enjoy it, don’t go crazy. I was planning on a one week taper before ESHM in a few weeks, but since I haven’t really upped my mileage over 4 miles yet since starting to run again post injury, I may not taper at all. Fingers crossed I can get a long run in this weekend. I desperately need one!

What was the last race you tapered for?

Tapering: love it or hate it?

***Tri Talk Tuesday will be taking a one month hiatus. We will be revamping, adding a third co-host, and coming back to you on Tuesday, November 4 for more tri chatter. Be on the look out for our comeback theme at the end of October. We’ll still be bantering about triathlon, but the link up will return again in one month!

7 Replies to “Tri Talk Tuesday – How to Taper For a Race”

  1. Personally, I love the taper. After putting so very much work into training and diligently following a plan, I always welcome the taper. The reduced volume and intensity is welcomed as I gear up for race day. My body typically responds well to the taper so I am ready to go on race morning! The last race I tapered for was Ironman Lake Placid. I was so so so happy when that taper phase started!!!

    **Keeping my fingers crossed for you that you will be able to get in your long run this weekend. I know that it will give you a great mental boost! (By the way…your new basement looks so great!!!)
    Lee@tri*inspired*life recently posted…Life After IronmanMy Profile

    1. I love the taper too! Maybe because I like to be lazy sometimes though, lol. Reduced volume is my favorite!

  2. Tapering is definitely a different experience for everyone. I am tapering right now for the Portland Marathon and am finding it quite enjoyable. I think there is a learning curve and it takes time to understand how your body/cravings/mind will handle the “easy” load and workouts. The taper used to drive me crazy. Now I use it as a time to rest, recover, and mentally prepare for the race ahead.
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…Training Updates, Girl’s Weekend, and SurgeryMy Profile

    1. It’s a great time to get your mental game on for sure! Woohoo marathon! Good luck!!!

    1. I don’t taper for short races either. For sprints I take the day or two before off, but the rest of the week is business as usual. Road races under half marathon don’t merit a taper either. Yay for your A race! So excited for you!!!!!!!!

  3. The last race I taperd for was the Ultra Beast. I tapered for a good 2 weeks before the event. I did some light jogging, but I didn’t do a whole lot else. I both enjoyed it and felt like I was going insane at the same time.

    For the shorter races (anything under 9 miles), I don’t really taper. I’ll usually take the day before the race off, but I don’t really taper. Even 5ks, I’ll take the day before off just so my legs are fresh for the race.
    The Famous Mudder recently posted…Ultra Beast 2014 Recap – Part 2My Profile

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