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Tri Talk Tuesday- The Taper + a lil’ post race update

Happy Tuesday! I’m back this week with another link up with CourtneyMiranda, and Cynthia for Tri Talk Tuesday.  Today’s topic is: the taper. 

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First, before getting into today’s topic, I wanted to quickly let you know that I had a great race on Saturday at the Patriot Half Ironman! I placed 2nd in my Age Group and I was the 10th Female overall finisher (out of around 250 women). I have lots to talk about in regards to the race, how it went, how I was feeling, etc, but wanted to still be a part of Tri Talk Tuesday. I will have full swim, bike and run recaps (plus photos) real soon! I want to take my time writing the recaps and it’s hard when you have to jump right back to work after a busy (and tiring) race weekend! I wanted to write my recaps yesterday, but did not have the energy (womp womp). I could have used yesterday as an extra day relaxing at home… that’s for sure.

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Now onto… the TAPER

I think of the taper as the time period that gives your body proper rest and recovery, to prepare itself for race day. I have learned the hard way, that you don’t want to go to a race feeling over trained. Taper days (or weeks) allow us to stay healthy for race day! If you burn the candle at both ends of the stick, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster.

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The funny thing is, I used to hate the taper. Until I started Ironman training. I found it to be a mental battle and hated taking it easy. I felt sluggish and lazy. Now with all of the training that I’m doing, I am starting to enjoy my taper weeks (or as I call them, step back weeks). This is a good topic for me this week, since I had to ‘taper’ week leading up to my Half Ironman on Saturday. I am also ‘taking it easy’ this week, the week after the race, which can be just as difficult as the taper! My tapers are not as relaxing, as say a Marathon taper. I am still swimming, biking and running a lot of hours BUT the intensity is lighter. Mixed in with the lower intensity work, are short bursts of intervals, that get me race ready. My heart rate is kept low during most of my taper workouts, think recovery zone. The week after a race, most of my workouts are at recovery pace and Zone 1 heart rate pace. I even trained the day after my half ironman, but did a very short & easy swim and bike ride.

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Here are my five ways to survive the taper (from my own experiences):

  • Find things to keep you busy. I enjoy taking our dog for walks, organizing my household, doing all of the things I never have energy for when I’m training hard. I have trouble slowing down, so when I can’t exercise at full intensity, I try to keep very busy.
  • Eat even healthier than normal. I always eat a very clean diet, but when I’m tapering I try and eat even healthier. My plan it typically to eat very clean until I have to carb load… then I get to eat all of the starchy carbs that I want (think pancakes and bagels!) Also, eating extra healthy while tapering makes you feel less slugglish!
  • Take care of your body. I like to take Epsom Salt baths when I’m tapering, to get some extra Magnesium to my muscles. If I am feeling the slightest bit of muscle soreness in taper week, I will take a salt bath. This typically helps me, big time! I also try not stay on my feet TOO much and wear extra supportive shoes while at work and home that week. Also, getting a light massage can work wonders during taper week!
  • Stay positive and trust the taper. Trust that the taper DOES work and don’t push things over the limit. There was a time I was doing crossfit and racing triathlons. I was ignoring my triathlon coach’s advice and continued lifting heavy weights during race week… this is why my quads seized up during a race. It’s all about balance. If you want to lift weights during your taper week, go light!
  • Don’t try anything new. I suggest not trying anything new during a taper. This goes for food, exercise, etc. For example, one might think taking a yoga class is a great idea during taper week, however, if you don’t routinely practice yoga, this could throw your body out of alignment and you could even pull a muscle. I would also stick to the foods you know and don’t risk any stomach upset.

Well there you have it! How do you cope with a taper? What does a taper look like for you?

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23 Comments

  • Reply Alice June 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    haha I like that one of your tips is to eat clean – I always find I eat quite badly on taper week as I take ‘carb loading’ to the max and don’t really worry about what I’m eating! Interesting how different things always suit different people.
    I DEFINITELY agree however with trusting the taper, trust your body, trust your training, it’s too late to change anything now!
    Looking forward to reading your race recap 🙂

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:58 am

      haha I know what you mean, I sometimes crave ‘bad foods’ when I’m tapering.. but try and avoid them as best I can…. at least until i carb load like crazy:) It definitely all depends on the person and what your body needs/wants during a taper! Glad you agree about trusting the taper.. it’s SO important! You are right, you can’t change anything… what’s done is done and you just need to mentally prepare for race day! thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Courtney @The TriGirl Chronicles June 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Great job on your race! Can’t wait to read all about how much you crushed it!

    I had thought about throwing in some yoga this week, but I definitely don’t practice it enough and I know it’d probably leave me a bit sore. Stick with what works. Great tips!

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Thanks so much Courtney!! It was a great day! Yes if I were you, I would skip the yoga this week before your race.. not worth the risk:)

  • Reply Bryanna June 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Great job on your race!! That’s so cool!! I loved the updates on Instagram. I agree with you about the taper!! I used to hate it until I got pregnant and now I love it. It’s so important for our bodies recovery and for race day. Love your tips keeping busy is a good one since you seem to have more time.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Thanks so much Bri!! I’m glad you liked the Instagram photos.. tried to recap the day as best I could:) I’m sure tapering really makes a big difference when being pregnant, I’m sure you are needing more recovery than ever before. I am still so impressed at your training during pregnancy. Oh and keeping busy is very important… it’s easy to get bored when tapering:)

  • Reply Nicole June 17, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Great post!

    Sleep is a big part of the taper for me! I always try to do at least 1 full rest day the friday before the race (for Sunday race) and I also try to sleep in (ie no morning workouts) at least 2 of the other weekdays.

    And congrats on the race! Can’t wait to read the recap!

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Thank you! Yes, sleep is HUGE for recovery. I realized that after I wrote the post, I should have included sleep! I also try and get extra sleep during race week… it’s so critical! I think it’s the sleep 2 nights before the race, like you mention here, is the most important.

  • Reply Amanda June 17, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Great job on your race! That’s awesome! I love all the tapering tips you provided. I don’t do the Magnesium baths as much as I should. Thanks for the reminder. Glad to hear it really does help. Great blog! I look forward to following.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:51 am

      Thanks Amanda, really appreciate it! The Salt baths are awesome for recovery… they really help with delayed muscle soreness! Also, the baths can be really relaxing. Just remember to drink LOTS of water after taking a salt bath, as they can dehydrate you. Thanks for stopping by my blog:)

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust June 17, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to read your race recap. The anticipation is killing me! 🙂 I’m starting to realize more and more how important taper weeks and light training days are. I’ve always had a weird mentality that each workout has to be my best effort – which is so so, so bad. I am quickly changing the way I think about each of my workouts and how they are affecting my body. I’m with you on the finding things to keep me busy aspect of tapering. I use my rest days/weeks as time to clean house, spend quality time with my husband and friends, run errands, get ahead on work, etc. I am so curious about your nutrition plan for Ironman training. You should do a post about your favorite foods/snacks/calories/splurges.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:48 am

      I love how you are excited to read my recaps, thanks girl! I am also starting to realize how vital taper weeks and light training days are. I used to think that you had to go at 100% effort in order to get a good workout… NOT the case. Rest days are a great excuse to spend more time with friends and the hubby of course… although I think I drive my hubby more crazy on rest days because I’m more irritable:) GREAT suggestion! I will definitely post about my Ironman nutrition soon, and will include foods, snacks, etc!

  • Reply Megan @ Meg Go Run June 18, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Oh I can’t wait for tomorrow’s re-cap! You almost make me want to try a tri 🙂 Congrats on 2nd place, that is so awesome. I used to hate taper and still hate it, but deal knowing that it is part of the PLAN. Rest is just as important as a training day. It’s PART of the training. It took me years to accept this.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

      You are so sweet! You should absolutely try a Tri! Are there any sprint triathlons near where you live? that’s how I started! Thank you so much for the congrats! it has also taken me YEARS to accept that rest and tapering is actually good for me…. it is still a mental battle at times though… I just need to keep busy!

  • Reply Momshomerun June 18, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I kind of love the idea that by taking it easier, you’re actually in the final stage of preparing your body for a big race.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Exactly, I totally agree with you. Tapering is KEY for preparing for a race. if you don’t taper, you are setting yourself up for over training (or in the worst case, injury).

  • Reply Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! June 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Let’s get this through my head: EAT EVEN HEALTHIER THAN NORMAL. I need to remember that! Great post, can’t wait to read your recaps when you get a chance to write them!

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Yes it’s SO important to get tons of nutrients when tapering… think leafy greens like kale:) Thanks so much! My bike and run recaps will be up soon!

  • Reply Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles June 18, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I actually really enjoyed my last taper before Boston. I knew I put in the work and was enjoying the rest before the big show! It is totally mental though!!

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 12:42 am

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the taper… I definitely find it to be more mental than anything! I tend to feel so lazy when I’m tapering, but I need to remind myself that it’s the best thing for me:)

  • Reply Leslie @ Triathlete Treats June 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Congrats on such a great race!! 10th overall female…Hello!!! So awesome!!!
    I was like you and hated taper. Now as a seasoned triathlete I embrace the extra time before the race. I like to eat healthy, sleep MORE, and get caught up on things. My only problem is since I have more time…I think about the race more which I hate. I just stir and stir!! I like the idea of an Epsom salt bath! Thanks for the suggestion!!!

  • Reply Kecia June 20, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    AWESOME post Kristin!! The importance of the taper is so much bigger than what most people think. Finding that balance of enough exercise to not go crazy, but also enough relaxation to let the work “soak in” and prepare us for race day can sometimes be a challenge. I’m glad your taper paid off!! Congrats on a great race!! 😉

  • Reply ig February 27, 2017 at 2:35 am

    Very good info. Lucky me I found your website by accident
    (stumbleupon). I’ve book marked it for later!

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