Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports
“There’s not a lot you can do to improve your performance in the last few weeks before a race, but there’s plenty you can do to mess it up.”
It seems that every single article ever written on the black art of tapering comes plastered with these words.. and that being the case, there’s probably enough in it to heed the warning, especially as juggling a double taper gives you twice the opportunity to fuck things up.
It should go without saying that the Taper is but one part of an overall periodised training plan that should include a base phase, a building phase, a peaking phase and only then a taper phase (followed by a race and then recovery phase) – as the name unsurprisingly implies, you do need some volume to actually taper down from – it’s amazing how some people don’t consider this! So if you haven’t thought and done something about all these other important elements in the lead up to the race, you probably don’t need to think too much about the taper anyway. I have learnt with training that if you do something half-arsed or don’t put in the work in any part of a training programme, you won’t get the full benefits from subsequent phases – there are NO short cuts!
In many ways, tapering for a run/skate double marathon should be a natural fit – following my longest training run 4 weeks out, my running volume has gradually decreased and partly replaced with an increase in skate volume over the last couple of weeks, before a drastic reduction in both running and skating volume in the final week. The great fear that all athletes have is always that they will lose fitness during the taper as volume is cut. This is why most advice says to keep intensity the same or even a little higher during the taper. But that does NOT mean go out and do Tabata intervals when you’ve been following a MAF-based marathon programme – the sessions should still be relevant to the type of race that you are training for and should still resemble the bulk of the training you have been doing up until now.
In my training log I calculate my training load for each session, which is based upon a combination of hours logged and perceived exertion; that way I can objectively calculate my daily and weekly training load – I find this very helpful when planning the taper to be able to quantify the training load.
One week out from race weekend, you are not going to either build or lose any additional fitness at this point. Your body won’t have time to super-compensate from any training done in the last week, and the temptation for one last hard session too close to the race could easily leave you with some lingering fatigue in your legs on race day. I’ve made this mistake before on more than one occasion and I can say that it has never been a good experience. Instead the aim of any last week training sessions should simply be to release pent up stress and – for skating – so that your technique stays as fluid as possible and you don’t lose the feel.
So in the last week I will be mostly spending my time on:
There’s not long to go now. You’ve got to put your trust in your body and the training that you have put in. Now is the time for restraint and discipline – don’t change the plan!