We all know that the pre-competition taper is one of the fundamental components of the build-up to an endurance event. In this short blog, we will briefly cover some of the science behind the purpose of, and best practices in, tapering. We cover the science and practice of the pre-competition taper in much more detail in LDT102, our course on training programme fundamentals.
Why do we need to taper?
In order to optimise your taper, it is important to first understand what a taper is trying to achieve. Tapering has been defined as the deliberate reduction in training load in the days prior to competition (4), the purpose of which is to provide the athlete with sufficient rest and recovery to perform at their best, but without reversing the adaptations gained through training (6). Tapering is therefore a balancing act between providing rest and recovery and preventing detraining.
Crucially, tapering has been shown across a number of investigations to be beneficial to endurance...