Dave Scott, 6X Ironman World Champion shares some of his tapering tips.
Nine Days and Counting to Race Day.
- Keep to your schedule.Maintain the same regimen and order of your training, both in terms of days per week and disciplines per day.
- Reduce your “long” distances. Your longest run should fall on day nine or day 8 before the race, and it should be 35 to 50 percent shorter than the last long run at the start of your taper. Your long bike should be similarly reduced, and your long swim workout reduced by 15 percent.
- Maintain intensity.Intensity should be maintained up to three days before the race. The single most important factor in implementing a proper taper is not to perform only aerobic workouts; it’s vital that you keep up your intensity but dramatically shorten the sets. This is when you’re “priming your engine.”
Lastly, maintain the steady-state aerobic work, particularly on the bike. This allows you to finish these sessions with elevated endorphins, which will help to maintain calmness during this period.
- Sleep.Get more if you can, and start shifting your bedtime hours or minutes a bit earlier so that the night before the race it’s “lights out” at about 8:30 p.m.
- Dinner.Begin shifting your dinnertime so that—on the last two nights before the event—you’re comfortable with finishing dinner by 6 pm. This will give you a 10-hour stomach transit time before your early wake-up call on race morning.
- Maintain strength training.Right up through Wednesday of race week – several days before the start, keep to your routines. Reduce the weight and just do one or two sets of all exercises. Maintain stretching and your foam rolling routines.
- Dial down the alcohol. Eat right and reduce your alcohol consumption. If you like a glass of wine or beer with the evening meal, have no more than two per day.
- Watch your weight.Don’t overeat due to nervousness.
Five to Four Days Before the Race
- Shorten the workouts, but maintain intensity.Maintain session intensity at the same levels you’ve been training. Breathe hard, make your muscles work and remind yourself of the physical cues that allow you to flow.
- A set of 6 x 2.5 minutes on the bike at race pace would be perfect!
- A run at 8 x 30 to 45 seconds at your IRONMAN 70.3 pace would be just right.
- For your swim, 12 x 75 meters at race pace.
- Add a steady-state aerobic block onto the end of each session to complete the workout.
- Strength training. Conduct your final strength session on either the fifth or fourth day before the race.
- Bodywork.Relax with a massage or yoga.
- Verbal cues for the race.Write down the key phrases that allow you to sense the easiness when you’re racing in each discipline. Consider these to be your mantras or cues.
- Swim – relaxed arms, wiggle your fingers in the recovery, firm catch.
- Bike – perfect circles with a softness yet solid stroke at the bottom. Long through the lower torso and draw the belly in to engage the core. Look at your leg muscles while they’re pumping down the Queen K and see yourself on your last great ride at home.
- Run – light but firm hold on ground contact. No wobbling from side to side. Maintain a relaxed face, head, neck, etc.
- Practice visualization.Visualize a mental roadmap of the course. For all three disciplines, know the turns, the tough spots and how YOU are going to break-up the course.
Day Three and Counting
- Workouts.You can still work hard in your sessions but keep them very short and allow them to leave you a bit antsy to test yourself.
- Go Easy. Get out of the mid-day sun. Exercise in the morning.
- Don’t Overdo the Hydration!Stay hydrated but DON’T over drink water or electrolyte drinks. Keep your feet elevated, minimize your time at the expo and walking around downtown, no matter how tempting it may be to relieve race nerves.
- Think through your race strategy.Anticipate the inevitable tough patches you’ll experience during the race, and think about how you’ll work through them.
Accept that you must be spontaneous on the racecourse and visualize how you’ll adapt. There is only one potential barrier: mental surrender. Don’t do it
Day Before the Race
Do all three disciplines and get a light sweat on the bike. Mix up your strokes on the swim. It’s okay to make a handful of efforts at almost race pace, but don’t overdo it! Wake up your legs for 30 seconds and know that tomorrow the snap will be there.
You’ve made it. You’ve put in all the hard work, while still allowing your body to rest and prepare for a hard but worthwhile race day. Good luck!