3 key tapering sessions for Olympic-distance triathlons

We outline the essential Olympic-distance swim, bike and run workouts to include in your schedule as your race nears…

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Heading into the final days and weeks before your next Olympic-distance triathlon? It’s time to start the taper. 

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Here, we outline three key swim, bike and run sessions for you to include as your race nears to help you prepare for the big day.

Swim: Settling into your rhythm

Credit: Andy McCandlish

Coach: Kate Offord, Smiling Tri Coach

Benefit: This swim ensures that you can retain some ‘feel’ for the open water, while providing much-needed sharpening to deal with the adrenaline of race day.

Warm-up

Easy 400m to acclimatise to the temperature. Focus on smooth breathing (inhalation and exhalation) and building a rhythm.

Main set

2 x 400m laps (or smaller loops) working on starting hard and being able to recover. Swim 25 strokes hard (at 8/10 RPE – rate of perceived exertion, 10 is maximum) to replicate the adrenaline at the start of a race. Add a further 2 x 15-20 stroke surges at 8/10 RPE in each 400m lap. Practise settling back into your rhythm for the remainder of the lap. Rest for 30secs between laps.

Cool-down

Simply practise exiting the water smoothly and taking your wetsuit off without assistance.

Bike: Pre-race intervals

Credit: Andy McCandlish

Coach: Mel Hayes, Smiling Tri Coach

Benefit: The aim is to spin out your legs and put a little intensity into them without creating fatigue. This will prime them for action. Do this session the day before the race.

Warm-up

10mins easy @ 70% FTP (functional threshold power, i.e. the highest average power you can sustain for approximately 1hr, measured in watts)

Main set

Interval of 5mins @ 105% FTP; recovery of 10mins @ 60% FTP; interval of 1min @ 150% FTP.

Cool-down

5mins @ 40% FTP

Run: Pre-race strides

Credit: @Daniel_James_Pix

Coach: Joe Friel

Benefit: This is simply a relaxed run with some easy speed to sharpen the legs.

Warm-up

10mins easy walk or run in Zone 1.

Main set

30min easy run (Z2) followed by 6 x 10-15sec ‘strides’. For the strides, start steady and pick up your pace to a near maximum speed in the last 4-5secs then slow down gradually. Allow yourself to recover and go again. Remember to relax and ensure you’re not holding any tension in the shoulders. We’re aiming for easy speed!

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Cool-down

Walk until your breathing is back to normal.