Congratulations on making it through your Ironman training! Now that it’s taper time, we want to remind you of a few things. Over the past several months, you have accumulated quite a bit of fatigue with your training. The stress of this training has caused your body to adapt and become stronger. You are currently fit to race an Ironman. Now that we are getting closer to the race, the priority is not on improving fitness, but rather, reducing fatigue so that you can arrive on race day feeling fresh and motivated to put your best foot forward. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It is normal to feel nervous as though you have not done enough training during this period. You have become so accustomed to long Ironman training that anything less than a 6-hour ride seems like a waste of time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that you can reduce training volumes by 50% for an entire month and see no decrease in VO2 Max or Lactate Threshold test results. Do not be tempted to squeeze in one last long ride or long run. You will only accrue more fatigue and delay your return to full freshness. Stick to your plan!
- Research shows that it takes 11 days for any workout to cause an adaptation or change in your body. So, when you are within 11 days of a race, there is nothing you can do to improve your fitness. The aim of the workouts during this period is to keep your muscles firing, but not so much that you accumulate unwanted fatigue. Remember, when you are in this window, there isn’t anything you can do to improve your fitness, but there’s a lot you can do to increase your fatigue levels. So err on the side of too little as opposed to too much.
- Lastly, during this taper period when we are reducing volume in order to decrease fatigue and increase freshness, the overall goal during this time is to feel rested. If, on a given day, you feel tired, sluggish, or had a stressful day at work, the smartest thing you may do is take the day off and get some extra sleep. Remind yourself you have done the work, the hay is in the barn, and now your only goal is to get to the start line, healthy, happy, and ready to go.