Tapering for Race Day
Author: Jeff Horowitz
With less than a week before the Nations Tri, there isn't much that hard training could do for you other than wear you out before the race. But that doesn't mean you don’t have work to do. By implementing the right tapering plan, you can ensure that you are rested, ready, and primed for a great effort on September 11. Follow these guidelines:
Reduce overall training volume. Don’t worry about losing fitness; there isn’t time enough for your muscles to atrophy, but there is enough time to give them some rest.
Maintain intensity in the run. Even though the workouts will be shorter, aim to keep up the pace. Your final track workout, for example, should be no more than four repeats of 400m at your 5k pace. You’re aiming to keep you muscles familiar with hard efforts without getting them sore.
Focus on cadence on your rides. Do short, high-spin bike rides to maintain familiarity with an efficient leg turnover.
Do swim drills. Focus on your form and prepare your mental checklist for judging you form. This will give you a way to review your form on race day, which will give you an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments and corrections as you compete.
Sleep! When you rest, your body releases human growth hormone naturally, which it uses to repair any damage you’ve caused during your race build-up, Give you body as much repair time as possible.
Eat well and hydrate. Proper fueling doesn’t happen suddenly; you want to give your body all the materials it needs as soon as possible to repair any lingering damage, store glycogen, and get fully hydrated.
Remember that less is more. You can do very little to improve your body in this time frame, but you could do a lot to your body to wear it down. If you’re tired, then rest. Sleep late. Take naps. And if you miss a workout now, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Follow these simple rules, and you’ll make it to the race start feeling fresh and ready. Good luck!
Jeff first fell in love with endurance sport almost a quarter century ago, when he chose the Marine Corps Marathon as his first race. Since then, he's run over 150 marathons, including at least one in every state and on 6 continents, including Antarctica. He's also taken up ultramarathoning and long distance cycling. His swimming is a work in progress; it took him a while to realize that when people said he swims like a runner, it wasn't a compliment. Jeff is the author of "My First 100 Marathons: 2,620 Miles With An Obsessive Runner (Skyhorse Press, 2008) and is the Mid-Atlantic editor of Competitor Magazine, He is a coach and personal trainer, certified by USAT, USATF, RRCA, USA Cycling, and AFAA. He also is a member of the Clif Bar Pace Team, and loves being a brand ambassador for The Nations Tri and the Washington DC Triathlon.