The Perfect Taper
You’ve trained hard. You’ve met your schedule, got your race plan(s) in place and the event is fast approaching. You should be confident but somehow you are restless, nervous, even doubtful.
The “dreaded” taper has started. It is important to understand the purpose of taper which will help “coping” with it.
Taper is defined as a transition period of reduced intensity and load prior to an event to allow the athlete to be fully rested and performed at her/his best potential. It is also a time to ensure the body and mind is ready for the battle to come.
Coach Stephane is an experienced Ultra Trail runner and Coach at UP Coaching.
Coach Stephane runs UP Coaching Hills and coaches online athletes around Australia.
The purpose of taper is to reduce mileage and associated fatigue and as well as intensity duration. A typical taper of 3 to 5 days is used – depending on athletes. Alternating rest days and short easy runs are a good implementation. Adding a few strides in an easy way is a sure way to keep fast twitching muscles active and get rid of that nervous energy.
Extra sleep is also a good way to have a good taper, ensuring you are refreshed.
A taper is often associated with carb loading – increasing the glycogen stores in one’s body. This does not mean you can order the entire menu …! And should really only applied for events that will require the extended time of running – above 90 mins as your body stored glycogen are then depleted.
It is not uncommon to feel discomfort / bloating as a result of carb loading. Avoiding high fibre food, spicy food is recommended to reduce the potential of stomach issues come race day.
Topping up hydration during taper is also a key aspect to ensure the athlete is well hydrated prior to the event.
Happy Tapering Coach Stephane