Your Base has been built, you put in the quality Race Prep training, and now you’re a couple weeks out from your A-Race…
The final weeks heading into an A-Race can be the most difficult time of the training season for many athletes. At this point in the season, with two weeks to go, the training is done; “the hay is in the barn,” as is said. You worked hard for many weeks, if not months, to build fitness and prepare for a peak performance. Your last few weeks of training may have been among your hardest and/or highest volume depending on your target event demands. Regardless, you should be very fit, and likely quite fatigued from the quality work.
With your fitness at or near its highest point of the season, it is now time to recover and freshen up for a peak performance. With high fitness comes high fatigue (as both come from consistent training). While you can still race well with high fitness and accumulated fatigue, you will almost certainly race even better (ie. “peak performance”) if you can shed that fatigue and replace it with freshness; all while minimizing the loss of fitness… AKA: the taper and/or “finding form.”
Within that statement above is the tricky part of finding form and tapering: in order to gain fitness you must accumulate fatigue (meaning you may be very fit, but also a bit tired or lacking freshness). In order to gain freshness you must lose (some) fitness. It’s a balance and one that can be a difficult task to achieve to perfection. You must train hard to get fit – as you train hard you get tired – to perform your best you must train less (for a short bit) to regain freshness and achieve a peak performance. Sounds easy, right?
Lower the Volume…
There are many schools of thought and variables to consider regarding the taper process. Rather than go through all the options, I’ll choose to explain the most agreed upon strategy and share some details on exactly how we prescribe things at Waite Endurance.