A good taper is a must if you want to get the most out of your performance on race day. While it's true that there's no one tapering plan that will be right for everyone, there are a few things every triathlete should do two weeks prior to race day to maximize recovery and sharpen your speed.
These eight basic tapering tips are a good place to start. Keep in mind that longer events such as an IRONMAN or races that are later in the season may require a more involved tapering plan that last longer that two weeks.
1. Make sure you get in the water. If you ask most triathletes which of the three legs they're most worried about, it's the swim. Getting in the water the week of the race to work on form and technique is important, but it's the familiarity that will help calm your nerves on race day. If possible, go for an open water swim instead of sticking to the pool.
2. Get get plenty of sleep. At least eight hours of sleep each night the week of the race is recommended to recover properly and be well rested for race day.
3. Cut your volume by 60 to 70 percent. This means no more long runs or rides two weeks before your event. You won't improve your aerobic base with just two weeks to go. Be content with the training you've done and focus on getting sharp.
4. Keep the intensity high. High intensity workouts like intervals are okay, but cut down the number of repetitions you would normally do. Make sure you don't do hard interval sets 48 hours before the event.
5. Eat healthy meals that are easy to digest. Juicing is an excellent way to build your immune system by getting all of your fruits and vegetables. It will also aid in recovery and makes digestion easier, which conserves energy.
6. Don't rest the day before the event. For most athletes, doing nothing the day before the race can cause the legs to feel heavy and sluggish on race day. If you want to take a day off, do it the two days before. I like to complete a good 30-minute warm up on the bike in zone three followed by a light one- to two-mile jog the day before the race.
7. Do your training on terrain that's similar to the course you're racing on. If it's a hilly course, head to your favorite trail running spot.
8. Don't overthink it. Do the best you can and after you've tapered for enough races, you'll fine-tune what works for you.