Taper and the Necessary Pre-Race Rituals
Most of us do the hard yards in training to prepare us specifically for race days. The constant search for a better, faster, more satisfying result on race days is what keep us going. One never truly masters the art of triathlon – even the PRO’s will consistently make mistakes and have to learn from them – that is the beauty of this diverse sport
Don’t blow a potentially good race performance by making mistakes in the run-up. How do I avoid jinxing my race performance?
- Taper does not mean, stop the training, sit on the coach , eat plenty of food and watch some television
- Taper is a gradual reduction of the training load to give your body a chance to recover in time for race-day
- Taper is also you chance to “sharpen” up with shorter sessions so you are ready-to-go come race-day
How do we taper and when do we start?
- This will vary from athlete to athlete and is also determined by what type of racing you are prepping for (short distance/long distance
- The taper period for long distance racing is normally spread over a period of between 2 and 3 weeks where training distances are reduced in favour of more specific speed work with longer rest periods between the intervals
- For short distance racing, you could probably get away with 1 week of taper leading into the race weekend
- Generally speaking, you cannot get any fitter during pre-race week so rather do less than more. A few rest days will be more beneficial than trying to cram in some last minute sessions.
- Short and Sharp sessions for example may include 25m sprints in the swim pool/1-2km intervals on the bike and 400m – 800m repeats on the run – these are typical examples of what can be done in the 7 day lead up to an important race.
- Watch you’re eating habits, eat healthy and drink plenty fluids.
- Additional sleep is also an important part of a good pre-race taper regime.
- Visualisation is an important part of preparing properly for an event that is of importance to you. If you run “through” the entire race using some mental visualisation you tend to find that race day runs like clockwork – almost as if you don’t need to think – it just happens “automatically”.
- Get your gear together well in advance and make sure you have all that is needed for race-day. We often tend to forget some essential items and then end up having to buy another one at the expo race venue. Save money – be better prepared – pack early.
- Make sure the bike is serviced and race ready. Without a trustworthy bicycle, your race could end long before you hit the run.
- You can listen to people’s advice but stick with what you know and have used in the past for personal success. Don’t confuse yourself with too much information over-load. Race Days are really simple and easy to follow if you allow them to be.
On Race-Day Rituals
- Wake up early. You need to be wide awake and ready to take on the challenge – that means early to bed “the night before the night leading into race-day”
- Make sure you eat something – nerves can un-settle your normal eating routine. Your engine cannot run on empty – for optimal performance, you will need to fuel your body with some form of nutrition – a simple bite or two of an energy bar can do the trick
- Put on your wetsuit at the last minute – no sense in walking around in your wetsuit for 2hrs preceding race start. Yes its warm but not ideal to compress your muscles that you will need later on for the ride and run portions
- Make sure you get to the transition zone as early as possible – nothing worse than standing in queues to enter transition and then rushing to get all your goods ready for racing
- Do some type of warm-up – even jogging on the spot can be effective. Don’t start the race “cold”.
Good Luck – if you go in with a sense of having fun and enjoying the experience – the race-day will go well.