Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Perfect Taper

Have you trained really hard for your important race but ran or raced poorly because of mucking up your taper.

Runners have always tapered, especially prior to a big race in order to freshen up and improve performance. Rest the mind, rest the muscles, carbo load etc. Big problem is we never know exactly how to get the taper right. Moreover, this is what every runner tapering will fear- losing their hard earned fitness.

Well, here is the latest published research on how to get your taper before your big race correct. Interested? Please read on.

The researchers studied a group of university cross country runners before and after a 3 week tapering period for a 8 km race. At their peak training, the subjects ran 6x a week logging up to 72km (or 45miles).

During their 3 week taper, the runners ran 73%, 73% & 50% of the normal mileage. They did intervals and easy runs, but cut back on "moderate" runs (like tempo runs).

Here are the results. After the 3 week taper, the average race times for their 8km race dropped from 27:42 to 26:12 mins. Every single runner improved their times after the taper. There was no decline in aerobic fitness, Vo2 max or running economy. In fact the runners gained muscle strength (in the calf) after the taper.

The author suggested that this same taper strategy will work up to marathon distance races. To achieve your PR, try this taper.

3 weeks before your race, do 75% of your normal mileage. Stop most medium-hard runs, but do usual interval training.

2 weeks before, same as above.

Last week before your race, do 50% of your normal distance. Stop ALL medium-hard runs & do 50% of usual intervals.

Race day, kick ass.


Luden N, E Hayes et al (2010). Myocellular Basis for Tapering in Competitive Distance Runners. J App Physiology 108: 1501-1509.

No comments:

Post a Comment