How To Get the Taper Right
By Blayne Arnold
A taper is a period at the end of a training block where the runner eases back their training. The purpose of a taper is to freshen up the runner in preparation for a race. A good taper will see a runner prepared for the race both physically and mentally.
The taper is a reduction in the overall training load for the runner. There are three primary training factors that affect training load – Intensity, Volume and Frequency. The relationship is shown in the below equation.
The overall training load can be increased or decreased by changing any one of the training factors. Below are general recommendations for how to alter the training factors to effectively reduce the training load in the taper phase.
Intensity refers to how hard/fast a training session is completed. Intensity should not be changed during a taper. The intensity during the taper should reflect the same intensities as the previous two weeks.
Volume refers to how far the runner runs and is normally measured in km’s. Volume should be reduced during a taper to between 80% – 50% of the total volume completed in the previous two weeks. Note: the volume should be reduced gradually over the whole taper.
Frequency refers to how many training sessions/runs are completed per week. Typically, frequency should not change during the taper. The number of training sessions during the taper should reflect the previous two weeks.
Time: How long should the taper be?
This is very dependent on the event and the individual. A general rule of thumb is that the length of the taper should be approximately 10% of the total length of the program. For example, for a 12 week program the taper should last for approximately 8 days.
It should be noted that this general advice. As with any aspect of a training program, the taper is highly specific to the individual and to the target event. For more information about programs please contact Blayne Arnold at Be A Runner.