The Key to a Good Taper: REST!

| September 26, 2012

By: Joella Baker (newsletter 9/27/12)

As many of you approach your last race of the season, you need to look at how you plan to taper for that last big event. It’s not easy. Trying to figure out the perfect taper takes a lot of practice. You need to figure out the perfect blend of still working your muscles, typically your fast twitch muscles, and getting enough rest.

Back in the old days when I started racing longer distances, we believed in just slowing things down and taking extra time off. Now, there is more to it. You actually want to do shorter and faster intervals, with longer rest intervals, to insure your body remembers how to swim, bike or run fast leading up to your race. In the pool, doing 50’s fast with at least 30 seconds rest, on the bike doing 2 -5 minute intervals at race effort with a 2 to 5 minute recovery and running, 2 minutes at race pace or faster with a 2 minute walk recovery after are all great workouts to implement race week.

However, the workouts aren’t enough. The one key element so many people fail to implement is rest. You must take days off race week, you must cut back your volume, you must sleep a lot and you must rest if you want to succeed. You can’t think you’ll gain weight, lose speed or lose all your training in one week. Sometimes rest is the best medicine. The one thing I have truly learned over the years, the older you are the more you need to take days off and rest leading up to your big race. Five years ago, I would only need one day off race week. Now I find that two days off is much better for me with race specific workouts with long rest intervals as my workouts.

Another bit of advice: If you’re unsure as to if you should do a workout race week, then you’re best not to do it. Always caution on the side of rest. When it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to take those days off. Enjoy the extra hours that week to pack, watch some TV, stretch and chill out. Better yet, take a nap.

Category: Archive, Run

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