Tapering is when you decrease your weekly volume to allow your body a chance to fully recover for an A race or key event. Overall, the reduction in training will result in some fitness loss but this loss is made up by the fact that you will now be 100% mentally and physically recovered. Some people take longer to recover than others but most tapers will last 1-3 weeks, depending on your volume of training.
Many athletes train on a 3 week training cycle. This means that for 3 weeks your volume and intensity have been steadily increasing. On the fourth week, the training volume will decrease, giving your body the chance to catch up and recover from the physical stress you have been putting it through.
After the recovery week, you are about 80% recovered and ready to add more volume and intensity. You have been repeating this cycle over and over throughout the season, until now.
Once you enter the taper phase it extremely important to treat it with the same respect as you do regular training. If you mess up the taper, it is possible to ruin all of the hard work you have done so far.
IN THE TAPER PHASE
DO NOT DO ANY EXTRA TRAINING.
DO NOT PICK UP A NEW SPORT.
DO NOT TRY TO BE A HERO AT YOUR SON’S SOCCER GAME.
SIT YOUR ASS ON THE COUCH AND KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE COOKIE JAR.
For those of you who have longer attention spans and are still reading, here are the keys to a positive and effective taper experience:
- Taper only if you have completed all of your key rides. If you haven’t completed the necessary training you might not be able to take advantage of the taper phase and will need to continue building volume up until the event.
- In taper mode, the intensity will decrease only slightly but the volume will decrease dramatically each week. Don’t try to fill in this “extra” time with other physical activities. Let your body rest.
- Even though your training volume has decreased, your appetite will still be high. Watch your calorie intake to make sure you don’t put on extra weight during these last 2 weeks.
- The purpose of a taper phase is to rest both mentally and physically. Try to decrease any extra stress. Use your extra time to put your feet up and rest. If you haven’t been doing so already, make sure that you are getting 8 hours of sleep at night.
- It is normal to feel tired and sluggish in the first week of your taper phase. This is your body catching up to the training you have done throughout an entire season. Don’t let it stress you and don’t try to overcome it by training harder. After a week, your body will stabilize. Plus you want to be ITCHING to ride hard so you don’t want to expend this energy before you even get to the start line.