What is the best way to taper for an event?
As a cycling coach perfecting a riders taper for an event involves a reduction in training volume without any modification to the intensity or frequency of training. The optimal taper is achieved with a 45-60% reduction in overall volume, but, a maintenance of intensity. If your training program has you completing a usual 10 h training week with 5 days of riding 2 hours a day, this might be reduced to 5 x 1 hour rides. The usual intensity would be maintained in these rides, but, the volume reduced.
The key to any taper is to understand that it is training phase designed to promote an overall drop in training stress by decreasing the volume while maintaining intensity. This allows your body sufficient time to recover and adapt to the load placed upon it in the preceding weeks and gain freshness and form to elicit peak performance.
While in a taper phase you should expect to lose a little aerobic condition this might be seen as a 5-10 point drop in CTL while observing a TSB rebound. This rebound should optimally be between +5 – +25 depending upon the type of event being participated in. The longer the event (if it’s a 1 day event the lower the +TSB) Giving away too much aerobic fitness maybe detrimental to performance if CTL was to drop too much. Conversely if the event is a short sharp and hard criterium of TT then optimal TSB could be as high as +20.