One aspect of training and event preparation which is often underestimated, especially in the lead up to big events, is tapering. Today, we’re covering the basics - what is tapering why you need it, and how to do it.
What is tapering?
Tapering is the practice of reducing training in the days leading up to an important competition or event. For endurance events, tapering starts around two to four weeks ahead of the event.
There are many benefits to tapering your training in the lead up to a big event, just a few are listed below:
- Helps you peak at the right time - tapering after a hard phase of training and before a big event ensures your muscles are well recovered and you’re feeling fresh, whilst ensuring you don’t lose form by training too little
- Gives your body time to rest and recover - as we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, it’s important to let your body rest and recover. Tapering helps your body recover so you don’t get to the start line with tired legs
How to taper
If you’ve been following a structured training plan in the lead up to your event, you may notice that the intensity reduces in the final two weeks, so you simply need to continue following the plan.
If you’ve not been following the plan, there are three main methods of tapering you can try:
1. Ride less - simply reduce the number of days on which you train, but keep the intensity and duration of sessions the same. Be careful not to reduce your training too much, you should be aiming for around one extra rest day.
2. Reduce intensity - if you’ve been training in higher, more intense training zones, bring the intensity back down to zone two and below. Do this in the final week to ensure fitness levels don’t drop too much.
3. Reduce volume - if you’re training outdoors, reduce the number of miles you’re riding each day, you should be aiming for around a 50% reduction in miles
If you want to make sure you’re feeling fresh and ready when you reach the start line, be sure to add some tapering to your training plan.