Training: Understanding the taper; peaking for your next big race

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

Many runners are in the last few weeks of their preparation for their Fall marathons right now, so we’ve started to see an uptick of questions about tapering. Everyone has heard the word “taper”, but they want to better understand how to do it and why they should do it. As I looked around the site, I found that this is a subject that I hadn’t spent much time discussing, so here’s a new article aimed at understanding tapering.

Tapering: The Art and Science of Peaking

Tapering: The Art and Science of Peaking

In the run-up to a major event, everyone wants the same thing: to come into the event well rested, focused and ready to perform well. The final stage of a well structured training program will include a phase that is designed to help do those things. This phase of the program is sometimes called “tapering”, but can also be called “peaking”, which is a more informational name for what’s actually happening in this phase of training.

The word taper means “to cut back” or “to narrow” if you were to look it up in the dictionary. One aspect of the final phase of athletic race preparation is indeed to cut back the volume of training to allow the body to recover. But that’s only half of the story. If an athlete simply cuts back on their training for awhile, they risk losing hard gained fitness at the same time.

Instead, what we want to happen is to “peak” or come up to a new a level of performance. So how does one reach a new peak by backing off of their training volume? It happens by combining the recovery of the taper with the continuation of shorter, quicker, and perhaps more intense workouts to maintain fitness in those final days or weeks.

Tapering
Tapering seems like the easiest part of the marathon preparation process — and it would be if one’s job in that period was to just laze around and wait for race day to come.
Read more…

Share