How to Taper for a Triathlon

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7 steps on how to taper for a triathlon.

How to Taper for a Triathlon
During your triathlon training program, you complete a variety of workouts including tempo workouts, brick workouts and strength training. Each workout is designed to prepare your mind and body for race day, but one of the most important — and commonly overlooked — components of triathlon training is the taper. The taper puts the final touches to your training, allowing your body to recover before race day. Tapering for a triathlon requires a specific approach that decreases the overall training volume for a few weeks as race day approaches.

Step 1

Start the taper period four weeks before your triathlon. The week prior to starting the taper should include your longest workouts and largest weekly training volume.

Step 2

Focus on decreasing your running the first week of the taper, and decrease your overall training volume by 20 percent for a total of about 210 miles, including a five-hour ride. This can increase your energy levels.

The final taper is a critical component to race day success.

Step 3

Decrease your training volume by another 20 percent three weeks before your triathlon. Focus on decreasing your cycling volume with a total training mileage of 170 miles and a four-hour bike ride.

Step 4

Decrease swimming volume during the third week of the taper when you are two weeks from race day. You may be tempted to increase the volume and intensity but it’s important to continue recovering. Total training mileage is about 130 miles with a two hour bike ride.

Step 5

Eat a balanced diet with increased carbohydrate intake as race week starts. Increase your carbohydrate intake to about 50 to 55 percent of your total calories and decrease fat intake to about 20 percent.
Training for a triathlon? Here's how to taper leading up to race day. Click To Tweet

Step 6

Use the final five to 10 minutes of each workout during race week to increase the intensity to your “race pace.” Training at your goal race pace prepares your mind and body for the intensity level during the race. Total training mileage during race week is 100 miles with a bike ride of no more than two hours.

Step 7

Increase your carbohydrate intake to 70 percent total calories during the three to four days before your triathlon. The majority of your carbohydrates should come from fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.


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