Triathlon Tapering depends greatly on the distance of the triathlon. As someone who only does sprint triathlons and longer distance relays presently, triathlon tapering is not as much of an issue as it is for someone doing a half or full Ironman distance.
Still, tapering is important even at the sprint level. Beginner triathletes tend to look at the week before as a rest week. That is probably not an issue given the shorter distance of the race, but tapering (even for a sprint distance) is a better choice. Here are 5 tips for triathlon tapering that can benefit any triathlete regardless of the race distance:
1) Keep active. Choose activities during the taper week that keep your body flexible and active. Yoga, stretching, and pilates are all good options. A daily walk or slow jog with your family around the neighborhood or a casual lap swim (keep the distance low) are great choices too.
2) Keep properly fueling. Your energy stores, that is. The couple days before or the week of the race depending on distance is the time to really think about how the fuel you put in your body will affect your performance on race day. Stick to foods you’ve used in your daily training to keep you nourished up through your race. If you know dairy gives you digestive issues, don’t decide to go to the local creamery the day or two before the race. If your favorite thai restaurant is calling your name, but you know the spiciness of their Pad Thai causes you to empty the air freshener can, stay away (probably for good, but at least until after the race!). If you’ve been jonesin’ for one of those bacon cheeseburgers with the fried egg on top from the burger joint, splurge on it AFTER you cross the finish line!
3) Stay hydrated. Just because you aren’t biking from home to the end of the earth this week doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep hydrating. Water is essential for our bodies general functioning. Maintaining hydration during your race week will give you a little extra edge on your race morning hydration. The last thing you need is to wake up race morning with cotton mouth (not the kind that comes from your Friday night alochol binge) and realize that your muscles are already behind in the race.
4) Use your foam roller. Your foam roller is probably part of your daily routine, so don’t forget about it just because you didn’t bike or run that day. It doesn’t take long for those hips and calves to stiffen up on us. A few foam roller exercises in front of your favorite show that you finally have time to watch will keep you limber for your big day.
5) Rest. I don’t mean in front of your tv, computer, video game console, etc. I mean real rest. Really use this week to your advantage and go to bed early. A well rested body will perform much better than an overly exhausted one. So, don’t use this week as the week you decide to catch up with all the friends you didn’t get a chance to see because you’ve been training. This isn’t the week to grab a few drinks here and there. Save that for the evening after your race. Your friends can join you for that burger and a cold one….right after you pass out from race fatigue.
Triathlon tapering is essential the week leading up to your race. Failing to spend that week tapering, especially in the longer distances, can end up earning you a DNF. We all train hard for our events and we all want to see each other walk away with the BLING!
How do you taper for a race?