Sunday, 15 August 2010

Is Tapering Necessary?

Is Tapering Necessary?

Is tapering for a race necessary?  Obviously for some races (like 100-milers) I believe that it is necessary for a taper, but what about shorter races?  I know there is a ton of scientific research out there about peaking for a race, and then tapering down for optimal performance; but I haven't found much research of the opposite.

This is why I ask:

Last month at White River 50-miler Anton Krupicka shattered his own course record (a stout record that he  set the year before by edging out former course record holder Uli Steidl's time) and when I talked with him afterward he said, "tapering is overrated!"  He told me that this race was part of a pretty big week for him putting him well into the 100's for miles. I congratulated him on his stellar performance and we talked a little about this notion of not tapering.  Then I told him about my similar experiences of this paradox in the sport.

For me my first experience with not tapering was back in February of 2009. I decided to run The Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club Winter Marathon in Albany, NY as my long run to top off a 103-mile week.  I felt so strong during the race and instead of slowing down toward the end I actually picked it up the last 10k and went on for the win in 2:47.  I had previously run slower times in the marathon when I tapered for 2-3 weeks.

Next...fast forward to April 2010...same scenario...I went into the Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k with a bunch of miles under my belt and was planning on using the race to round out a 115-mile week.  I was able to pretty much hold my pace for over four hours (and even surged toward the end of the 36-mile race) and again came in for the win.

Finally, my last experience was also this year when I spontaneously went down to Reno, Nevada and decided to use the Silver State 50k race as a long run to get me right up around 109 miles for the week.  Same result...Course record time for the win and I felt super strong the entire race all the way up to the end.

Hmmmm....I see a pattern here.  Watch THIS VIDEO to hear what one coach says about tapering  in accordance to his cross country runners.

Don't get me wrong I have had great races when I did taper as well and I am not suggesting ruling out the tapering period of training.

Anyone else have any experiences along the lines of not tapering?  I'd be happy to hear from you. :-)

Also:  Stay tuned for Inov-8 releasing some hot new running shoes including four pairs of minimal road shoes and super stealth trail running editions. 

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