Don’t Panic! Here comes the Taper!


You are two weeks away from a goal race and out for an easy recovery run. And then the above happens. For the record, this runner rolled his ankle and then in the process of falling got stung by a wasp.

ARRGH! As any athlete with a goal event looming, the first thought is always “Can I still do my event?”

This is the beauty of taper. At this point, you’ve done the work and rest will only help. For many athletes, taper is the hardest part of training and yes, it is a crucial part of your training. A good taper reduces workout volume yet still keeps the athlete sharp by maintaining some intensity. If you come into taper with more aches and pains for whatever reason, a more substantial taper can only help. Resist the urge to cram in any training that you missed or work as hard as you can at every workout because a little voice is telling you to push hard. Ignore that voice and remember that rest during taper will make you strong for race day. Instead of cutting calories because you are not training as long, eat mindfully and healthfully reminding yourself that you are building your body for race day.

During a taper (with proper fueling), muscle damage has a chance to repair, glycogen stores increase, enzyme and hormone levels that have been depleted return to optimal ranges, Vo2 Max increases, immune function and muscle strength increases. Many athletes find they sleep better and their mood improves. Some studies show that performance can improve anywhere from 1-10% with a proper taper!

In this instance, after the athlete has figured out that there is nothing broken or seriously wrong, substantial rest with proper treatment will get him to the start line ready to go!


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