BTMS Road Trip: Day 2 & Tapering for a Race

After checking in to a Quality Inn, we were asleep by 3:30 AM and up again at 7:00 AM and off to the track at Fort Stockton High School. Kristi hammered out a quick 30 minute track workout that included some 400 meter and 200 meter efforts at threshold.

After getting cleaned up, we repacked the car and are on our way to Houston to visit a friend of Kristi’s. We are making a brief coffee stop here in San Antonio and will be on our way shortly.

Keeping in mind, due to illness, a injured calf, a chest cold and cracked ribs, Kristi’s taper is a lot closer to a recovery week, but the goal is the same. My goal for a taper, with any athlete that I work with is to have them recover from the prior heavy training load without compromising the adaptations that we made along the way. The three main variables that I’m concerned with in a taper are training intensity, volume and frequency.

My goal with Kristi is to progressively reduce her training volume by roughly 50%, while continuing with lower intensity training (LIT) to allow for sufficient recovery and adaptation, while maintaining/increasing the high-intensity interval training (HIT) to ensure we continue to see the proper physiological response to the taper and to prevent detraining.

Tomorrow in Houston is another “easy” day for Kristi with an hour ride that includes some 30 second efforts at over 120% of her Functional Threshold Power (FTP) which will provide the HIT training mentioned above. Saturday will be her last day of any substantial volume, with a swim, bike and run workout back-to-back-to-back. From there, an easy day on Sunday and then big race on Monday!

If you are interested in more of the science behind the taper, please keep reading! If not, make sure to check back in tomorrow!


The Science

Our goal is to increase Kristi’s time to fatigue,  red blood cell count (erythropoisis), increase muscle oxidative enzyme activity in addition to blood and plasma volume (both of which increases her ability to deliver oxygen to her working muscles) and an increase in muscle glycogen content (glycogen = fuel for the muscles)!

Time to Fatigue

The first and most tangible adaptation from the taper is the increase in Kristi’s time to fatigue. A research study showed that after a seven (7) day taper, runners were able to increase their time to fatigue by 22% via a HIT taper.













Muscle Adaptations

The two main adaptations we are looking for is an increase in muscle glycogen content and an increase in Citrate Synthase (CS) activity. The muscle glycogen content provides more fuel to the muscle and the increased CS activity is an indicator of an increased mitochondrial content, which is responsible for generating ATP, which is the primary fuel source for the body at the cellular level.

The same research study mentioned above also showed an increase in both glycogen concentration and CS activity following the HIT taper.








Blood Volume

With a proper taper, we would expect to see an increase in total blood volume and red blood cell content. The same study also showed an increase in both following the HIT taper.









Hopefully this has illustrated to you the importance of utilizing the proper taper when preparing for an important race. The key is to decrease the volume while maintaining and/or increasing the intensity!


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