Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3-2-1 Taper

The excerpts below came from the blog of Joe Friel (author of the “Triathlete’s Training Bible”)

OK, I think I've mapped out the last few weeks leading up to Barb’s Race.  I've heard differing opinions on how much taper time is needed for the peaking process. James says 3 weeks. Joe Friel says 2-3 weeks. Athletes in triathlon training forums say 2 weeks for a 70.3...some even said you only need a week. I have a feeling that the athletes saying they only need a one week taper for a half-iron race are probably much younger than I am LOL

According to Joe Friel…
For the triathlete the peaking process … may be modified by sport. For example, running requires a longer taper than does cycling which is usually longer than for swimming. There are other elements to also consider such as the length of the race (long races mean long tapers), how fit you are (high fitness means long tapers), how easily injured you are (injury prone athletes should taper longer), and how old you are (older often athletes need longer tapers).

Since I’m a fairly fit, old, injured athlete that will be doing a 70.3, I am opting for a longer taper.

The Plan

I would say my fatigue level is pretty high right now and I am looking forward to my rest/sauna day on Thursday. Friday will be my last, LONG Spinervals workout and I can honestly say that I am NOT looking forward to that. 2-1/2 hours on the bike trainer is mentally and physically tough.  I’m not sure what is planned for Saturday, but my guess is about 90 minutes of training.

Do you ever get the feeling you should have done more? LOL

My 3 week taper will begin on Monday, July 8. While the drop from 9 hours of training to 8 hours may not seem like a lot (11% reduction), those 8 hours include 60 minutes of sitting in the sauna and a 60 minute P90X Stretch routine.  The next week begins with the Tri for Real #2. This will be my last chance to fine tune race strategies and also my one chance to try out my new helmet in a race.

The swim workout following the Tri for Real #2 will be a recovery swim (low intensity). After that, I will start doing short, race-intensity workouts.

Starting two to three weeks before the A-priority race do a race-intensity workout which simulates the conditions of the race every third or fourth day. For most athletes doing these every third day is better. These workouts gradually get shorter as you progress through the first week or two of the Peak period. With the workouts getting shorter the weekly volume is also dropping. That's good. It should drop rather rapidly. Something such as a 30% to 50% drop each week is about right. The intensity for these intense workouts should be at least heart rate zone 3 or tempo power or "moderately hard." Such intensity is the key to maintaining fitness.

I can’t really remember how I approached my taper last year. I can look up what I did and how long I did it, but I don’t remember having any kind of plan mapped out. I do remember squeezing in extra swim workouts whenever I could because I was so freaked out about the swim. This year, I am making a concerted effort to find a balance between fatigue, fitness and form.

Fatigue is a measure of how great your workload is in the last few days. If intensity and/or duration have been higher than normal for the last few days then fatigue is elevated. In this situation, fitness will also be high. High-workload training produces both fatigue and fitness simultaneously. But fitness rises slowly relative to fatigue. Three hard workouts in three days will produce a lot of fatigue but only a very small increase in fitness. Fitness occurs over long periods of time whereas fatigue occurs in short periods of time. During the Peak period we're not trying to gain fitness but rather reduce fatigue.

As I said, my fatigue is pretty high right now but I will probably feel much better on Friday after a day off. As I ease into my taper, I am going to note my level of fatigue. If at any time I do not feel a reduction in my level of fatigue then I will reduce the duration of my workouts. I will also be paying attention to my Achilles and will continue all of the rehab I have been doing up until this point…even if I feel 100%.

The Hardest Part

I think the hardest part of the taper is going to be keeping my nutrition in check. My current weight is 142, six pounds lighter than what I raced at last year. At this point it is highly unlikely I will reach my goal weight of 135…if I even tried, I would probably hurt my performance more than help it, so I’m shooting for 140 by the Tri for Real #2. At this point, I will need to maintain this weight for the two weeks leading up to the race. This will be quite a challenge due to my decreased work load. Since I won’t be burning all the calories I normally do, I must be extra vigilant in making smart choices. I'm pigging out after Barb’s!