How long should your taper period last?
Sadly there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to how long your taper should last, says Dermott Hayes. The correct taper time for a triathlete will depend on race distance, history of training and personal fitness level.
What is common in any kind of taper is the need to reduce training volume, i.e. overall distance/duration, in order to reduce the potential for fatigue leading into your race. Scaling back the training hours will give the body a chance to absorb the hard work you’ve done and lead into the race feeling fresher. A suggested figure to reduce training time by would be between 20-40%. A simple way of reducing training hours is to include an extra full rest day in the week leading up to the race.
A key factor in any good taper is that you should still include elements of training at ‘race pace’ or higher intensities, so that you remind the muscles what it feels like to work hard. So do keep some interval-style sessions happening. It never feels good to hit race day feeling slow or sluggish.
If training for a sprint or standard-distance race then a taper of seven to 10 days is enough; for a 70.3 distance you should consider 10-14 days; and for an iron-distance race between 14-21 days. A more experienced athlete will know what works for them and they may be able to continue with a more regular training pattern closer up to race day. As with most aspects of training, you’ll find what works best for you over time.