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Congratulations! You’ve reached the taper, now what?

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Congratulations!  You’ve reached the taper, now what?

Congratulations you’ve made this far, and trained hard, now you’re quickly approaching your peak and are getting ready to taper, or you may already be there and starting to taper now!  Here are some quick tips to get you ready for race day!

Rest

The importance of rest and recovery now becomes extremely important.  You maybe have just done your last long run, training session, and are now approaching that 10-14 day window before the main event, your “A” race.  Well now is not the time to squeeze in any missed workouts, try to get that one last “hard” training session in, or try anything new.  In fact, depending on the intensity of the workout it takes about 10-14 days to fully recover from that workout.  For example, a 20 mile long run could suppress the immune system for 14 days, and you’re body may take 14 days to repair the micro-tears in your muscles from this workout.  So now is the time to rest and take it easy.  You’re there, trust the training!

Sleep

Try to plan to get 7.5-9 hours sleep as often as you can, your body needs it.  Especially during “Race Week”.  Two nights before the main event is more important than sleep the night before the big race.  Why, you won’t sleep on race night!  With anxiety, thinking about the race, planning, getting up early, your sleep may not be the best, but that’s okay, you slept well the night before, right?  I hope!  Your body is resilient and if you final week the sleep has been dialed in, and two nights before, you are well rested you will be okay.

Feel something coming on?

Do you feel a cold coming on, scratchy throat, something under laying?  This can happen when you peak, remember, your immune system may still be suppressed from that last long workout.  Listen to your body here, if you feel something coming on, are a little more tired than usual, and have a workout planned, it is okay to skip it and not make it up, I mean it!.  A good coach has planned for missed days during your taper.  It is likely your coach has taken you to a Fitness Level higher than what you will race at knowing that your body needs recovery and will start to shed fatigue as well as some fitness, this is okay, it is all part of the training plan.  And really, those last two weeks are just to keep the body moving, maintain some fitness, and keep the body from becoming still.  So, take a day off if you feel you need it, cut the workout short if you feel you need it, now is not the time to do something you might regret.  It’s okay, there is little to gain in those last two weeks.  I have been there, and made that mistake for you.  

Some things you can do to help boost your immune system would be sleep more, take a extra dose or two of Vitamin C, try taking a dose of Zinc (do this early in the day as it will send your immune system into high gear), have a green smoothie with things like, dark berries, dark leafy greens, fresh ginger, a squeeze of half a lemon, and anything else you might want to add in there for some flavor.

Weight Lifting and Hard Workouts

As I had mentioned before the body takes 10-14 days to recover from these sorts of activities.  So, please remove them when you are 10-14 days out.  Your goal is to recover, get ready, and feel good.  I know sometimes you love doing those things, but try to avoid them.  You worked too hard over the last 16+ weeks, you owe it to you and all your hard work!  Instead, try something like a gentle yoga class (not sculpt!), do some short hikes, borrow someone’s dog and take them for a walk.  Most of our personalized coaching approach already takes this into consideration.  We tell our athletes when to stop doing what and when!  Takes a lot of the guess work out if it.

Carbo Loading

The fun topic.  I will make this short, but feel free to reach out to me with any additional questions or if you want to go into more detail about anything here.  But here it goes.  During taper, the intensity is coming down which means you’re using less of the glycogenic system and don’t really need to significantly increase carbohydrate much.  Some folks complain about weight gain during taper and the reason is, they are eating way too many damn carbs!  Carbohydrates are great, but when your body isn’t using them because you’ve stopped weight lifting, backed of the short burst efforts, and took out some of the intensity, the call for carbohydrates in the form of glycogen is not needed as often.  In fact, your body depending if you’re male or female and how much muscle you have can only hold 400-500 grams.  Once these stores are full that’s it, there isn’t anywhere else to put carbs, so your body does another thing, realizing it is a form of energy it’ll convert it to adipose tissue (body fat) for energy to be used later.  Not what you want when you’re trying to attain race weight, right?  I didn’t think so.  Okay, enough nerd talk from me.  Here is the window of time to start increasing some carbohydrate intake.

One last thing, if you normally don’t eat breads and pastas you do not have to start eating them in the week leading up to your “A” race.  Just go with your normal carbohydrate foods such as, sweet potatoes, white or brown rice (preferably white, but I won’t go into detail to why), lentils (if you eat them) etc.  Just add in an extra serving or two per day in the 3 days leading up to the event.  Reach out to me if you’d like a sample timeline of how to do this properly, we can bring you everything free in a blog post 🙂

That’s all for today.  Hope you enjoyed, and learned something.

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Brady Hoover is an IRONMAN Certified Coach and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and a 17x Long Course Finisher, with extensive experience in endurance sports training and racing, and coach for EventHorizon Endurance Sport

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