Tapering for Cyclists
WHAT IS A TAPER?
Tapering is essentially slowing down your training work load in the build up to an event, and if you do it right can give a big boost to your performance. I could quote some scientists, or something really complicated here but let's keep it in line with Bike Bible Guides and keep it simple! When you train you get fitter, but you also get tired – so slowing down in the preceding days to an event allows you to recharge your batteries and feel fresh and fit the day of the event.
WHEN SHOULD I BEING TO TAPER?
Now depending on your fitness levels and the intensity of the forthcoming event some say that tapering should being two weeks prior others say one week, personally I always found a week is fine unless you have been hitting the training very hard in the build-up and risking injure then possibly give it a little longer!
HOW CAN I TAPER?
There a few ways to approach a taper, and not all will work for everyone. So its about finding the one that fits you best and working with it to tailor it to your needs. For instance someone who rides to work 5 days a week wouldn’t be able to do the same as someone who drives.
The main ways to taper are:
1. Reduce Frequency
2. Reduce Intensity
3. Reduce Volume
It is what it says on the tin! Reduce the amount of times you ride before the event. If you are training 5 times a week reduce this to 3 or even 2. Leaving time for the body to recover and rest prior to the event.
So you have been hitting the hill reps or interval training in preparation, now you're in taper mode how about a spin round the country lanes or gentle ride round your favourite route? Keeping the legs spinning but not pushing them too hard.
You have been putting in the big miles ready for that big event making sure you are ready, time to reduce them miles in favour of shorter rides allowing the body time to recover and build stronger leaner muscle.
DECIPHERING THE JARGON
There are literally hundreds of articles, studies and experts on tapering, some say that you shouldn’t do this some say only do that, and let's be honest unless you are racing and looking to perform at the high levels, most of us won't need to “crash train” then have a 3 week taper, we just simply need a few days of low intensity training to keep the legs moving and then a day off completely the day before an event.
It is also about finding what works for you, yes, it is true that fitness levels can begin to fall off after only a few days off the bike, but again your average club ride is not going to notice this in any great detail are we! So, find what works for you, if a few days prior to the event you are feeling a little jaded or fatigue is kicking in, take a few days off then you will wake up feeling fighting fit on all levels and ready to tackle your challenge! The key message is to always listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you.
Chris Evans Cycling Guru For Bike Bible