Tapering for Ironman

With Cairns Ironman just a couple of weeks away most of us are entering taper or are already there. For some (like myself) it’s a sigh of relief and for others it feels very foreign and can fill your head with doubt.
During this period you have to trust the process and understand that the body needs to heal itself and rest from the weeks and weeks of heavy training that you’ve put it through. For a lot of people it’s been a long 20 week build. A lot of sleep has been missed, a lot of chores have been forgotten and there is much of normal life that needs attention. But now is not the time to completely take your ‘eyes off the prize.’ When the volume backs off its quite easy fill that void with other things or conversely not fill it at all and become a slob. It’s a balancing act. For myself there are a few key things that I try to employ during this period and like to program.

1) Day before race day is a nothing day. I like to have everything sorted as soon as possible this day and largely spend the day doing nothing. Laying on the couch watching TV is high on the agenda, carb loading and visualisation.

2) Keep training. The worst thing you can do (and I’ve done it before) is to not do anything. Your body still needs to be active, however going out and smashing a 200k ride or massive run session will most likely not leave your body the recovery time it needs before race day. A very general guide is to reduce training volume by about 50%.

3) Wrap yourself in cotton wool. You’ve done so much training and invested so much time into this race and now is not the time to go and get hit by a car or get sick. Wash your hands, stay away from large groups, ride indoors etc.

4) Sleep like a champion. I found this out the hard way. Being a shift worker for many years and trying to do an ironman just doesn’t work. I like to get to the race location as early as possible (normally a few days prior) so that I can get settled and then use the extra time to sleep. Ironman race week is hectic from Thursday onwards and if you think you can relax, forget it. Between briefings, check in, registration, packing bags, doing training runs/rides and swims, transition tours, athlete welcome dinners, group catch ups, the list goes on. If you are getting to the race location with minimum time before race day, then expect things to be busy.

Those are a few thoughts I have on the taper. Putting everything aside, come race day you want to be jumping out of your skin and be super excited to race!

Good luck to the competitors at Cairns and I’ll see you out there.

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