Many runners and coaches use the work tapering as one approaches the few weeks leading up to a big race or the point in the season you want to be at your best. I feel tapering is only a third of the equation and I use the term peaking. As I prepare my athletes for their big event or Cool Impossible for the year, there are three elements I look to accomplish in the weeks leading up to the event.
1. Reduce Volume - depending on the length of the race, I will begin reducing the weekly volume by up to 50% leading into the week of the race.
2. Maintain Frequency - With the reduction in overall weekly volume, I still keep the weekly sequence of run frequency. This means I continue to have the athlete run on the normal days they are used to running, but at a reduced time amount for that given day. The body likes frequency and unlike in training when we want to change things up, it is important to not change things too much leading into the race. No surprises to the body at this time, so stick to the sequence and frequency the body is used to.
3. Keep Some Intensity - As with frequency, we also want to keep some intensity during the weeks during the peak process. I reduce the amount of intensity load or volume, but I maintain the frequency of intensity. This helps the body and legs to remain fresh and to create the Peak, while the recovery and rest comes from the reduction. Too much rest or infrequent intensity will lead to feeling stale.
I am peaking for my Grand Canyon Run Expedition next week, and this is what my week of training looked like leading up to my departure:
Saturday - Day Off running
Sunday - 60 min trails with a 13 min hard climb interval at max HR effort.
Monday - 60 min trails with 2 X 13 min hard climb intervals at max HR effort.
Tuesday - 30 min Very easy road run in zone 1-2.
Wednesday - 30 min Very easy road run in zone 1-2.
Thursday - 90 min deep tissue massage.
Friday - 55 min very easy trails with some 10-60 second hills in there to elevate HR a little.
Saturday - Travel to Canyon, day off running
Grand Canyon Itinerary
Sunday - 31 miles on secondary trails.
Monday - 33 miles on secondary trails.
Tuesday - 42 miles Rim to Rim to Rim
Hope this helps and would love to hear your peaking secrets and questions.