Posted by: David D. Daggett | September 16, 2019

Taper Time

Taper Time

“Forge the Iron, Then Sharpen the Blade”

            Are you an art person or a science person?  The good news is the taper for your big race is a bit of both.  You need to follow the basic principles and apply it to your personal situation and experience.  You have spent the time forging the iron, now let’s sharpen the blade.  With a proper taper you will be in perfect position to be the best you you can be on race day!


Sharpen the Blade!

The basics of a proper taper is to start reducing your volume while adding a bit of intensity, but not too much.  The last thing you want to do is to get sore during your taper.  Specifically, referring to tapers for long distance events, I like to plateau my large volumes of effort approximately four or five weeks out from the event, with my biggest week being approximately three weeks out.  I still like to keep good volume, but not those mega miles that had just finished.  Be careful – it is better to be 10 percent undertrained than one percent overtrained.

Many athletes try to emulate the pros and continue the large volume up to ten days or so before the big event.  For most age-groupers, this can be a very costly mistake.  We simply are not able to continue to absorb that amount of time and volume that late into the pre-race training.  Over the years, I have come to basically believe in a two-week run taper, ten-day bike taper, and a five to seven-day swim taper.  For the everyday working person with other responsibilities this seems both doable, and beneficial from a lifestyle point of view as you get ready for your race.

A simple way to figure it out is the take the taper period and divide by three.  Then reduce your volume by one-third each of those three periods.  I also like to throw in a bit in intensity in each session at or slightly above race pace just to tickle system and make sure everything is firing.

Next, and this is a big one, don’t gain weight! Use your taper to really, really clean up your eating habits.  The last thing you want to do is to go into the race well rested, but with five extra pounds.  Remember, you are exercising less so you need to consume less.  Be very, very careful with your eating habits.

During the taper phase, it is typical to either have loads of extra energy, or to go completely flat.  My remedy for this paradox is to keep busy with the extra time.  The one thing I really focus on is getting all of my gear lined up and race ready so that there is no last-minute panic.  I also have a drawer set aside where I have mixed up my “magic” nutrition bottles and have all of my race day nutrition and supplements organized and ready.  Check the weather and make sure that in packing you have all of your proper race day attire and needs ready to go.

Your legs may feel a bit heavy of “water logged” during your taper.  Don’t panic – that is just part of the physiological process of storing up for the big day.  Be confident in your plan and work on being psychologically ready.  You have forged the iron, let’s just make sure the blade is sharp.


Ready, Set, Go!

Taper time is also a good time to give special thanks to friends and family members who have helped you along the way.  During those large volume weeks, we unfortunately tend to take for granted those who are closest to us.   Taper time is good payback time.

Celebrate taper time and make it your favorite time.  Do it right and you will be able to show the best you on the course.  Lastly, be sure to look good and smile for the finish line camera… Nobody will ever remember your time, but the photos last forever.

Ready, Set, Taper!



  1. Good stuff

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