Best Peaking Strategies For Triathlon Racing

You’ve been training hard and your race is looming. How do you make sure you are ready on the day?

Getting your preparation right in the final weeks before your key triathlon race can make all the difference to your performance. This period is commonly called a taper.

Before going any further, it is important to define what we mean by ‘taper’. This is the training or physical preparation you do in the weeks leading up to a race to optimise performance. It is not rest – rest is passive!

By manipulating the type, volume and intensity of training you can optimise performance. An effective taper has been shown to improve performance by up to 6% in well-trained athletes.

A lot of scientific research has been carried out looking at the ideal taper, yet it is still an area that is not fully understood. Not much research has been carried out on endurance events lasting 2 hours or longer, and there is a limited understanding of the physiological, neuromuscular and biomechanical factors involved.

So getting your taper right is still a combination of art and science, and you are likely to come across conflicting advice.

Based on existing research, the most effective taper appears to be one that starts 2 – 3 weeks before the race. During this period a 40 – 60% reduction in training volume should be incorporated, whilst maintaining training intensity and potentially including a small (~20%) reduction in training frequency.

So What Does This Mean In Practice For You?

The main aim of the taper is for you to feel fresh (both mentally and physically) by the time that race day arrives so you can perform at your best.

If you are fairly new to triathlon and have not got much of a training background (e.g. you have done around 300 hours of training per year or less – which works out at an average of 5 to 6 hour per week), then you should taper your training for only around a week.

This is because you are not doing enough volume of training to need longer. Also if you were to reduce training volume for 3 weeks you would start to lose fitness due to not having a significant training background.

If you have a good training background and are have been averaging about 10 hours training per week, then you can afford to have a longer taper – about 2 – 3 weeks.

Regardless of how long your taper lasts, you should reduce the volume of training by around 50% but still maintain the intensity of sessions. In other words reduce the duration or frequency that you train but keep the training at the same pace/intensity as you have been – not lower and not higher intensity.

This is to provide enough stimuli to prevent detraining, and to maintain feeling for race pace, muscle elastic properties and neuromuscular activation.

Generally this would mean doing work at race pace, but you might have longer recovery between intervals during your taper than you would normally, and fewer intervals.

During your taper, focus your training more on your weakest discipline. For swimming you may have to reduce the volume by more than 50% as you are likely to have local muscular fatigue more than in the other disciplines.

As swimming is such a technical event you will need to gauge how much you need to keep doing to maintain your technique and ‘feel’ for the water.

If you are training and racing at a high level, then your taper could start with a few days of rest, before gradually building your training back up again. The rationale is that you would be able to take advantage of the being fully recovered to enhance training tolerance and respond effectively to the training done at this time.

As mentioned earlier, getting your taper right is a blend of art and science. So whilst you can use the principles above, you will need to play around with the exact details of your training to get it right for your key race.

In general the higher the volume of training you have been doing the longer your taper will be. Most triathletes will want to peak for 1 – 3 key races per year. You can use an early season race to practice your taper for your key race(s). For all other minor races, 2 – 3 days rest before the race should be enough.

Don’t worry if you feel lethargic during your taper. This is quite common, particularly if you are used to doing a high volume of training. This doesn’t mean you need to up your training though. This period of recovery is important for you to perform well on the day!

Final Preparations To Maximise Triathlon Performance

During the last week or so before your key race it is a good idea to practice your transition skills. Also, find out what type of swim start your race will have and practice this if necessary.

Particularly if you are preparing for an Ironman then ensuring a high carbohydrate intake during the few days before the race is important.

Summary Of Tapering For Peak Performance For Triathlon

• Duration of the taper will depend on your training background
• Reduce volume of training
• Maintain intensity of training
• Reduce frequency of training
• Focus on your weakest discipline
• Everyone is different, so practice your taper to perfect it before your key race.

Rhona Pearce has a degree and postgraduate degree in sports science and exercise physiology, and 10 years experience of providing sports science support to triathletes. Her husband is a triathlon coach for the British Olympic programme and together they have developed the Intelligent Triathlon Training website:

Visit to get your free triathlon training planner, and for lots of practical information and advice about all aspects of triathlon training, nutrition, triathlon gear, injury prevention and recovery.

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Posted by The Running Guy - July 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

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5 Important Steps to Take in Preparing for a 5K Run

Preparing for a 5K run is no small matter, especially if jogging already seems like a major task!

Yet, a 5K (3.125 mile) run is not only for the experienced runner. It’s a good place to start even if you haven’t run an event like this before. All it takes is planning, time and commitment.

Here are five important steps to take before you embark on your very first 5K run:

1. Ask the Doc:

Getting medical approval is the first important step before preparing for a 5K run. Getting the green light from your physician ensures that you are physically and medically capable of handling the task at hand. Do you have special medical needs? Are there medical conditions that might prevent you from completing your training safely? ALWAYS check with your doctor first. And while you’re at the doctor’s office, also inquire about the proper diet you will have to adopt while preparing for the run. Remember, your doctor’s approval is vital.

2. Where’s your starting point?

After getting your doctor’s approval, it’s time to find out what your basic level of fitness is. This will help you better plan your strategy in training for the run. With your watch/timer handy, head to the gym or a running track. One the first day, time yourself running the full 5K. (This becomes your ‘base time’.) Don’t worry if you can’t complete it. It is important to remember that your progress will be gradual. Hang on to your commitment!

3. Setting realistic goals

Your success begins with setting realistic, achievable goals. With the base time you clocked on the first trial run, your goal is to beat that time. Don’t push yourself TOO hard the first few times you run. Aim to complete the same distance, but with a faster time. Then aim to complete MORE of a distance, always keeping track of how much time you took to run it. Reward yourself when you reach these self-set goals. But not with cookies.

4. Put it on the calendar

Remember, you have a life – and it involves work, family, and commitments outside of your training.

Get out your calendar and assign times for training, whether it is on a track at the gym, or at home. Your decision as to how often you’ll train will be dependent on your personal schedule, your access to a gym or track, your fitness level – and of course, how close the 5K run is. Take these into account, and you’ll find that training for the run will rewarding, and not stressful. Above all, stick to a running/training schedule. You’ll be thankful for this consistency.

5. Give it a rest

It’s 24 hours before the race. Give yourself a rest. Don’t train. Your body needs a chance to recover from the previous day’s training. It also needs to store up energy for the run that is tomorrow. Hydrate yourself with water and certainly stay away from caffeine. Assure yourself with a good 8-hours of sleep. It’s your big day tomorrow.

It’s 5K time

Finally, it’s the day of the race. Your preparation and commitment will pay off today. Enjoy the social event – and remember, you’re not alone. You run with other individuals who have worked equally hard to prepare for the run. Enjoy the experience!

Adam Keyes is a contributing writer to, a website dedicated to promoting the Aviator Flight Fest & 5K Run/Walk event – a fundraiser for the Sycamore Junior High athletics program. For more information about this event, please visit

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Posted by The Running Guy - July 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

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Yoga Makes Your Running More Effective

Running is good for you. Whether you are an experienced marathoner, or you’ve just signed up for your first 5K, pat yourself on the back. A regular running program offers numerous and substantial benefits for your entire body – efficient heart and lungs, strong muscles, dense bones, good digestion, and so on. As a runner you can whoop it up with decreased stress, a healthy body weight, and an enhanced quality of life.

You don’t get fit while you are running. Consider this. The repetitive, forward-moving, impact-based stride of running causes the body to break down. At the end of a run your energy stores are depleted. Your muscles are fraught with microtears, and their surrounding sheaths are irritated. Your pectoral, hip flexor, hamstring, and calf muscles are short and tight, causing imbalance to the joints they cross and affecting normal range of motion and function. You don’t get fit while you are running. All the physical benefits of running come while your body is resting and rebuilding in between your runs, and here is where yoga is especially helpful.

Yoga makes everything better. A regular yoga practice is the perfect complement to a vigorous fitness regimen, including running. First, running and yoga are quite similar. Both require breath control and good postural alignment for optimum effectiveness. Also, the active meditative aspect of running is completely on par with the mindfulness found in yoga.

Now here is where running and yoga differ and thus go hand-in-hand. The fast pace of running can take your mind away from what is happening in your body with each stride. Its vigorous intensity causes energy depletion, microtears, and muscle imbalances. Ahhh, yoga. The slower pace of yoga brings your body back to baseline and ready for your next workout.

1. Yoga teaches you to breathe. Run without breathing properly and you feel like your heart is plugging your airway, making the next lamppost seem very far away. Every yoga practice begins with attention to the breath. If you simply roll out your mat and breathe for 10 minutes, this is a good yoga. You become aware of your diaphragm muscle pressing down into your abdomen as you inhale and then relaxing upward as you exhale. Over time even your pelvic floor becomes a secondary breathing muscle. Yoga teaches you to bring an abundance of oxygen into your lungs and circulate it to your working muscles, which is crucial for running.

2. Yoga helps you find good posture. When you run, you move forward. Your head and neck reach forward, and your shoulders round inward. To compensate, your mid spine hunches. Bottom line, your spine is a mess.

The foundation of every yoga posture is proper alignment of the spine, pelvis, and shoulder girdle. The principles of good alignment in yoga apply to every exercise imaginable, such as squats, planks, sitting on a spin bike, and of course running. Learn yoga, and you learn how to activate core muscles for stabilizing the spine and maintaining good posture while you run. Have good posture while you run, and you’re running injury free for miles.

Good posture doesn’t just look nice. When aligned properly intervertebral disks, hips, and knees have the least possible stress and degeneration. Your lungs, digestive tract, nerves, and every other organ and gland function better. In fact, there is a strong connection between good posture and absence of injury and disease.

3. Yoga gives you longer muscles with greater strength potential. As mentioned earlier, the repetitive motion of running can shorten the resting state of muscles. This decreases a joint’s possible range of motion. Think for a moment about the hip flexors and hamstrings. They are on opposite sides of the hip joints, and they both become short and tight from running. Essentially the pelvis and thighbones become demobilized. Muscles moving through a smaller range of motion have lessened potential for developing strength. In other words, shortened muscles lack power, which is unfortunate because muscle power is helpful for getting you through your run.

In conclusion, yoga is the best cross-training activity for runners. There are three components of physical fitness: muscular strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory efficiency, and flexibility. A few quick stretches at the end of your run may help prevent some muscle soreness and injury, but they have little impact on maintaining or increasing the range of motion around a joint. Let yoga be the flexibility training that you need, and you will enjoy the breathing, postural, and strength potential benefits as well.

All That Is Wellness ( ) is your healthy lifestyle e-zine. It’s where you come for reliable, relevant information about safe, effective fitness, mind-body wellness, wholesome nutrition, and great recipes.

Article topics are chosen with you, a real person, in mind. You have a genuine interest in making healthy lifestyle choices. You need credible information based on scientific research and expert recommendations, and you need this presented in easy-to-understand language. You are interest in the facts, but you also need practical ideas for implementation. We give you facts, as well as the “how-to” with workouts, exercise equipment, yoga sequences, good nutrition, recipes, and more.

The Web is a tangled mess of fitness and nutrition quackery. It can be exhausting sorting through confusing, conflicting, and inaccurate information. Be wary of fad diets that can harm your body systems and botch up your metabolism. Watch out for exercise movements and equipment that are ineffective or, worse, unsafe. Bookmark All That Is Wellness as your first stop for reliable advice and ideas.

Anita Parker, B.Sc., B.Ed., is the editor of All That Is Wellness. You can contact her at

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Posted by The Running Guy - July 1, 2011 at 9:01 am

Categories: Cross Training, Fitness, Injuries, Training   Tags:

Tips For Running And Traveling

If you are an avid runner, as I am, running while you are on traveling and vacation is a given. Packing my running shoes is as normal to me as packing my underwear!

But you need to keep some things in mind while running on vacation. Here are some tips to help:

1. If you are flying, pack your running shoes in your carry on. Luggage can get lost, and you may have to buy some clothes. But, I don’t want to have to worry about new running shoes. I always carry my shoes and one running outfit in my carry on.

2. Check out Google maps before you leave to check out the area. You’d be surprised the parks, river trails, greenways, etc. that may be close to where you are going to be. If you are traveling to a larger city, exploring these areas can be a nice getaway during your getaway!

3. Check out local running clubs. Most running clubs have websites – check them out to see if they have any routes that they recommend. If they don’t have anything listed – there is usually a contact person. Drop them an email and see if they can help you find a nice route or routes.

4. Ask the hotel where you are staying. I have found great areas to run just by asking the front desk or the concierge. With more and more people running every year, the staff is aware of safe places to run. Also, if you strike up a conversation with them, how many of them actually run themselves.

5. There is also a really cool website MapMyRun where runners in a certain area list their favorite runs in their city or others they’ve visited. You can also visit running forums and ask members of they know of any great areas to run where you are going to be.

6. Be aware of where you are. It’s easy to turn here, turn there and then got lost. I once turned a quick 3 mile run into a nice 7-miler in Hawaii. Not intentionally, just got lost. But, I saw a lot of nice areas! I was lucky that everyone there is usually so nice – but it’s better to keep a better eye on where you’ve gone.

I can’t imagine not running while I’m on vacation. I hope these tips help you during your next trip.

Judy Mick has been running since 1978 and has not missed a day running since 1985. Read about her running and get running tips at

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Posted by The Running Guy - June 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

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How to Drag Yourself Into Running Each Morning

An early morning run is one of the most difficult things one can do. The discipline required to do it every day is beyond the capability of many. New runners just going into the sport will find this very true. They often run out of will power well before getting results out of their running goals.

The goal of this article is to help those runners who cannot overcome the barriers of running each morning. It is the hope of the author that the following points will help the reader have a more effective strategy in consistently running each morning.


As with everything else, running in the morning starts long before you actually hit the road. Your vision the night will greatly help you in getting out of bed and not drum up excuses for not running the morning after. Try to just see yourself running on the path you normally take or plan to take.

Make sure that in your mind you recreate the scene as if shot but a movie camera. Take note of the road posts, the smell of the dew -laced grass, the cold breeze hitting your face and more. Details are extremely important. Doing so will help you tremendously the morning after.

“There ain’t nothing to it but doing it!”

A famous quote from record Mr. Olympia title holder, Ronnie Coleman. There simply is no time to think. As soon as you wake up do your routine and go running. There is no decision to be made that morning whether you will run or not. The decision has been made when you thought about how you could accomplish your fitness goals through running.

When you wake up, run. It is that simple. The human mind will conjure up the decision making analysis to force you to not run. Because you are smarter than your instincts you know that you just have to do it that very instant.

Wake Up While Running

While your mind is still cloudy and has not woken up 100% it is the best time to start walking. This prevents your mind from telling you that it is hard to run and your body would rather rest. Try not to run full speed though if you have not truly woken up.

Your leg muscles might be still asleep along with your mind. So it is important to start slow and when you are fully awake gear up to full speed. This all but eliminates the time for you to decide whether you run or not.

These three points should help every runner in being consistent with their running regimen. It is not easy but nothing in life worth getting is easy to get at all. So remember these things next time you plan to run and you will not have to drag yourself out to run each morning anymore.

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Posted by The Running Guy - December 12, 2009 at 12:28 am

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