What Is A Taper?
A taper refers to the decrease in workload that runners may implement prior to a race in order to be best prepared with an adequate recovery. Tapering remains a fine art combining both training and recovery to reach the start line in your best competitive shape!
What To Do During A Taper?
There are several steps to follow during a taper to ensure a proper recovery without losing fitness. We have broken down tapering in 3 simple steps:
- Training Load. The main focus of a taper is to reduce training load. This can be done by either decreasing your current volume and/or intensity. But you will see below that one may be better than the other.
- Volume. During taper, volume is the element to significantly decrease to roughly 50% of your current volume. By doing so, you free up time to implement recovery habits such as nutrition, sleep, and others.
- Intensity. On the other hand, workout intensities during taper should become very similar to the race demands. Depending on what you were working on before tapering, you may have to increase/reduce your intensity to meet the race demands as much as possible.
How Long Should A Taper Last?The answer will depend on your capabilities as well as the race characteristics. Some people will require 3-4 weeks of gradual decrease while some may perform well with only a week. A great rule of thumb however is the longer the race the longer the taper should be.
As you train with your COROS watch, you have access to multiple graphs within Training Hub. Some of them can be of great help to monitor your training and ensure you are recovering enough during tapering. We have inserted three different graphs in this blog that all play a role in your taper monitoring.
Base Fitness & Fatigue
Once again, the Training Load Management Chart is your bread and butter for most of your training monitoring.
- Fatigue. Aim to bring your Fatigue value down to roughly 20-40 during taper for optimized recovery.
- Base Fitness. Aim to bring your Base Fitness score down by roughly 5-10% during taper. For example, if you have built up your Base Fitness to 100 during training, aim to get to race day at a Base Fitness of about 90.
Is It Normal To See Base Fitness Decrease During A Taper?Absolutely! Base Fitness is your long-term stress score. Therefore, it is normal and even recommended to see decrease slightly during tapering as it would prove that your body is in a recovery process.
Weekly Training Load
As mentioned before, training load is the main focus of tapering. The Weekly Training Load Chart shown above is a great indicator of how much work you are putting in before and during tapering.
- Weekly Training Load. Aim to bring down your weekly TL score to roughly 50%. For example, the athlete below shows a weekly training load of ~700 compared to nearly ~1200 during their build up.
Pace Zones Distribution
Another helpful EvoLab graph is your Pace Zones Distribution. As mentioned earlier, it is important to maintain specific intensities during taper and pace zones can tell you exactly if you are following your intensity goals.
- Pace Zones: Aim to increase your training load spent at the zone(s) you will be racing at. For example, if you were completing speed workouts before tapering for a marathon, you may have to reduce intensity whereas if you were focusing on easy long runs, you may have to increase intensity. By following this concept, you can focus on your marathon pace and meet the demands of the race while recovering.
The graphs below show an increase in zone 2 during tapering for Boston Marathon, a race completed mostly within zone 2 (Aerobic Power).
If you would like your own training questions answered, send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to share insights!
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