The Marathon Taper
There is some good research on the topic. While the science doesn't answer all questions, it does provide a good guide. Combine this with the experience of has been found to work, and we should be getting close to the a good taper. So what are the guidelines I like to work from when constructing a taper?
The intensity should be held at current levels. Possibly even slightly increased as long as recovery can be assured. This is required to avoid detraining.
Reducing of 60-90% of overall volume appear to be the most beneficial.
Physiological training adaptations seem to be maintained training frequency at only 30-50% of pre-taper. However, it appears the technique and skills reduce if frequency is below at not held at 80% or above of the normal training load.
The science has shown benefits in tapers from 3 days up to a maximum of 28. However, there is no definite guide as to what is best. The art and anecdotal side suggests those with a longer training background, and a higher training load may do better with longer tapers. Those with limited training may detrain faster. Individual variability may further affect this.
A progressive non-linear taper has been shown to have the greatest positive benefit.
Studies have shown performance benefits to be only 0.5 to 6% of pre-taper performance levels. The average is a 3% performance increase.
- 10 days
- Progressive non-linear
- Intensity maintained - race pace, threshold, VO2, and speed work in strides
- Volume reduced by progressively to average about 75% less.
- Frquency maintained at 90% (only 1 day out of ten off).