Masterclass HOW TO TAPER LIKE A PRO
YOUR MAIN EVENT IS EDGING CLOSER. THAT MEANS ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY – IT’S TIME TO DIAL THINGS DOWN TO CRANK THINGS UP ON RACE DAY. HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TAPERING THAT WILL ENSURE YOUR BEST RACE EVER…
You’ve trained with the commitment and stoicism of an Augustine monk and your goal race is on the horizon. You feel fit but fatigued. All those training hours might have resulted in some serious physiological adaptations, including increased aerobic capacity and greater power output, but you can’t shake the lethargy that’s coursing through your veins. Fear not – it’s time to taper.
Simply put, tapering is the art of peaking for a particular triathlon by cranking down training load in search of peak performance. It’s about trading the fatigue of everyday training for freshness that’ll maximise your fitness. According to studies, if you get it right, you can enjoy performance improvements of 2-3% over your pre-taper.
Tapering-induced gains result from numerous physiological changes. All three of the following, for example, are raised after a taper: haemoglobin (oxygencarrying capacity of red blood cells), haematocrit (percentage of red blood cells in the blood) and red blood cell volume (size of red blood cells). As endurance sport is all about becoming as efficient as possible at assimilating and absorbing oxygen, you’ll race stronger and faster for no more effort.
Further research suggests tapering strengthens the contractile properties of muscle fibres, glycogen stores increase, while white-blood cell count – and therefore immunity – rises. And there’s also evidence that testosterone increases and cortisol drops after a good taper, again meaning you’re primed for optimum performance.
So, tapering works. ‘But we need more meat on the fatigue-beating, fitness-raising bone,’ you cry. No problem – read on to maximise your PB-beating chances…