15 Aug THE TAPER
It is Race WEEK and you are now well and truly into your final Taper ready for Bintan 70.3 on Sunday!
But What exactly does this mean?
And what should you be doing?
It is important to realise that a Taper is different and specific for everyone. What works for a 25 year old male doing his very first 70.3 who has regularly trained 20 hours a week might not work for the 60 year old female doing her 20th 70.3 training 10 hours a week. We are all different physically and mentally and your taper should reflect that.
I personally have experimented with many different variations from 2 weeks to 3 – 5 days. Decreasing volume but maintaining intensity and vice versa. It is very easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and that you should be doing the
same. But you need to trust your plan and trust your coach.
Below are 10 Tips to consider during your final week of Taper
1 – At this stage “Less is More!” You are not going to gain any fitness during the final week leading
into the race, but you CAN make yourself tired and lacking energy if you do to much! No one
session this week should leave you feeling excessively fatigued. If anything you should feel like
you want to do more…..but you wont 🙂
2 – You generally want to drop your volume 40 – 60% over your taper period. Studies have shown
that anything less is not affective enough and anything more may result in loss of efficiency and
ability to push and pace yourself.
3 – Decrease the volume but still include some high intensity efforts. This has been proven to
maintain the training benefits you have worked so hard for over the previous months despite the
decrease in training volume.
4 – I have never felt great at the beginning of my taper, so don’t be alarmed if you feel that way. A
little flat and tired as the body is in full recovery and race mode. But as time goes on I start to feel
better and better….so by race day the body and mind are ready to go!
5 – Sleep!! Make it a priority! Try and bank a few extra hours during the week if you can. You are
not training as much so hopefully this will give you the time to do that. It is normal not to sleep
well the night before the race. I am a terrible pre race sleeper. In fact it used to really stress me out
and then I would get even less!! Some races only 2 – 3 hrs! But I have learnt that I can still race
and it doesn’t impact my performance. It is more important for me to sleep well the week leading
into the race then it doesn’t matter what happens the night before, I am good to go!
6 – If you are going to have a day off – don’t do it the day before the race! Generally after a rest
day or day off you don’t feel so great the next day. So the preference would be 2 days before or
earlier in the week if significant travel is involved.
7 – The day before you want to prepare your body by doing a short session in each of the 3
A 15 – 20min Swim at the swim start if possible. This way you can familiarise yourself with the
course. Take note of the entry and exit and in particular for Bintan the sand bank. How long will
you porpoise before swimming? The straightest line between buoys. Landmarks you can use to
site when swimming back into to short.
Bike – Anywhere from 30 – 60min. Some athletes are happy with 30min easy spin while others like
a little longer and to include a few 60sec pick ups at race pace effort.
Run – 15 – 30min again mostly aerobic ……but you can include a few 30 – 60sec race pace
You want to aim to try and do this first thing in the morning so you can spend the rest of the day
resting with your feet up.
This is also a great opportunity for one final check that you all have your gear organised and
equipment / bike is working great and ready to go!
8 – In particular for hot and humid races (like Bintan) consider increasing your salt intake a few
days before the race. You can do this by adding additional salt to your meal or having 1 or 2 salt
tablets throughout the day. Guy and I actually travel with a small container of Himalayan Sea salt
which I add to water bottles leading into the race.
9 – Manage yourself! By this I mean mentally! You will have more time to think this week and that
is when the negative thoughts start creeping in! Should have, could have! But the truth is, I am
sure you did the best you can! I don’t believe that any lead up to a race is perfect. There will
always be something. Even for us at the Professional level. Illness, injury, work, family, life just
gets in the way! Sessions missed here and there. It happens.
Right now your goal is to focus on what you can Control! And not worry about what you can’t!
Andy Kirkland has designed a table for athletes to highlight the Controllable v’s Uncontrollable so
that strategies can be put in place to deal with them.
By Andy Kirkland
10 – In regards to diet and nutrition, you are not training as much this week so your body doesn’t
need as many calories. Be mindful of what you are eating, sticking to foods that are normal to
you. We increase our carbohydrate intake the day before the race. With Breakfast being the
biggest meal of the day. Then continue to add carbs and snack through the day. Dinner is usually
around 5.30pm so we are not trying to sleep on a full stomach! And hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Most of all – remember to breath, relax and HAVE FUN!! You do this sport because you enjoy it
and love the challenge! Embrace the amazing atmosphere, the excitement and the support from
those around you.
YOU ARE READY!!