Benefits of Tapering
You have put in 3-4 months of hard running, endless intervals around the track, gym sessions and the D Day is now approaching fast. For Boston runners, it’s a week left now.
Tapering phase is most feared by the runners because they feel that they may lose their hard earned fitness in the last 2-3 weeks of taper. But if you don’t do it properly, then you can kiss your PR goodbye.
should must you taper?
There have been numerous studies and researches done on this subject of tapering. So, there is no need to be anxious over reducing the volume of training before your goal race. Benefits of tapering have been scientifically tested and approved. I will now get on to the benefits of tapering.
1. Running efficiency
Tapering have shown that runners have become efficient in oxygen and energy consumption. The glycogen and fats reserve are expended at a much slower rate than those who didn’t perform tapering. Also, runners following a low volume but high intensity style of tapering have shown to not lose the fitness gained up to a max of 10 weeks.
2. Increase in muscular strength
Cyclists performing 2 weeks of taper have shown significant increase in muscle power which suggests effect on brain towards recruiting larger muscle mass. Also, the fast twitch fibres responded strongly after tapering, which means you still will have that last kick left at the end of the race.
3. Increase in RBC
Red blood cell volume have seen to be increased during tapering which means higher hemoglobin and better oxygen carrying capability. Increased RBC also enhances better recovery and repair of muscles.
4. Lactate tolerance
Isn’t this you wanted? Tapering has shown to have direct affect on the body in terms of lactate tolerance and clearance. That means you can run faster and tolerate 7.6% more accumulation of lactic acid than before.
5. Psychological benefits
Apart from the physiological factors, tapering has a major effect on the psychology of a runner. During the taper, a runner will feel rested, relaxed, sleep better, more motivated etc. Overall, a runner will be geared up mentally to undergo the rigors of the race.
According to National Centre for Biotechnology Information, running time to fatigue, aerobic capacity, muscle glycogen concentration and strength and total blood volume increased significantly after doing a taper which comprised of low volume of mileage, reduced gradually, along with high intensity runs.
Tapering is said to be an ‘art’. It is said that an ideal taper is of 3-4 weeks but it largely depends on the runner. There are many factors to it. It is a matter of trial and error. You will have to fine tune it to your own requirement and feel.
I will be writing more on this subject subsequently, so keep watching this space. Till then stay fit and keep running.
1. The Science and Art of Peaking and Tapering for your Best Marathon by Roy Stevenson
2. Lore of Running by Dr Tim Noakes. 3. National Centre for Biotechnology Information.