Breaking Down a Training Plan: The Taper

Breaking down the 5 steps when creating a training plan.

When developing a training plan I block off 10-21 days from an athletes A race date to taper. For a Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon, a taper is generally 10 days, for a 70.3, 14 days, and for an ironman, 2 days long. It is important to note, a taper is gradual reduction of training volume and intensity over a period of time, not just a few days of rest. Some people think if they rest a couple days before their race, that is a taper. Adding some more recovery or off days the week before a race is what I refer to a rest week, not a taper.  

Below is an example of a 14 day reduction in volume and intensity assuming your peak volume happens 2 weeks, day 14 and day 15, from your A event

  1. Maintain your schedule. If you normally swim on Wednesdays and Fridays, run on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sunday and bike T/Th and Saturdays, then continue that schedule
  2. Reduce volume on days 9-13 by 25%  and maintain “like intensity”.
  3. Days 8-3, continue to reduce volume another 25%. For example if your longest bike and run on day 14 and 15 was 4 hours and 2 hours respectively, day 8 ride 2 hours on and day 7 and run 1 hour.
  4. Transition to a strength training maintenance program if you have not done so already in the build phase, keep it to one day a week.
  5. Take naps and go to bed at the time you plan to go to bed the day before the race
  6. Tapering  is not the time to cut out nutrients in hopes of losing weight. Continue to eat nutrient dense foods with healthy fats, carbs and protein at all meals. Reduce portions slightly, not too much, since your body still needs those nutrients to repair from the heavy workload before taper started.
  7. On day 6-3 continue to reduce overall volume while maintaining  intensity at the same levels you’ve been training. For example, If 12 days out you ran 6X800s at the track, 5 days out run 6X 400s at the track. If 11 days you you did 5X 5 minute threshold pace on the bike, 4 days out bike 5X 2.5 minutes at threshold pace.
  8. If you plan to get a massage I recommend getting on no less than 4 days out from your event.
  9. Review your race plan outline
  10. Days 3 is meant to be a short workout just to keep the body lose, Review your training to remind yourself you are physically ready.
  11. Day 2 is complete rest day, stay off your feet
  12. Day before the race keep body loose with a 20 minute bike, 10 minute run, 10 minute swim.  
  13. Race Day: Race it Like you trained it.

I look forward to taper time as it motivates to to training smart during the build phase of my plan. I love to spend extra time sleeping and napping cause I know how much my body and mind respond to the extra rest. I love fueling my body nutrient dense meals and filling up my glycogen stores to have race day.

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