Nate discusses how to use the taper to dial in your race day performance.

Show Notes


  1. Started Data Driven Athlete Coaching in 2010
  2. Full-time coach in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Online.
    1. Coaching
    2. Pre-built training plans
    3. Napa Valley Training Camp
  3. Two other great coaches at DDA
    1. Matt Chatlong
    2. Sam Bassetti

Why The Taper?

  1. Stop training, get faster?
  2. How long?  How hard?
  3. Beauty of coaching | Science and art
  4. Graduate thesis

The science

  • Period of reduced training leading up to an important race/event (Mujika, 2010)
  • Aim: Diminish fatigue, maximize physiological adaptations and performance (Bosquet, 2007)

Why it works

  • Increase in VO2max
  • Reduction of lactate at submaximal intensities
  • Increase in muscle glycogen
  • Generates a positive mood state

Core Principles

  • Optimal length and volume: Likely dependent on amount of fatigue athlete carries into taper period
  • Intensity is essential

Measuring training load

  • Distance or duration
  • RPE
  • HR (Strava Suffer Score)
  • Power

Power/Training Load

  • If Power at LT is 300w
  • Then 1hr @ 300w
  • Equals 100 TSS


  • TSS model is a quick, easy, and convenient method for measuring training load
  • Models are educated guesses
    • Sometimes close to right
    • Sometimes wrong

Building a smarter taper

  • Step 1: Define your targets
  • Step 2: Look for trends
  • Step 3: Use science as a guide
  • Step 4: Build confidence by modeling

Defining Targets

  • Joe Schmoe, 16hrs week to train
  • Targeting Rhino Romp on 3/26
  • Feature climb: Salmon Falls bridge to Rhino
  • Race feature: 20 minute climb

Looking for trends

  • Consistently having 20m PPO with TSB between 1-5

Science as a guide

  • 1 week taper (2 weeks too much)
  • Reduce training volume 50% (16 to 8)
  • Maintain riding intensity and frequency
  • Hang onto as much fitness (CTL) as possible with TSB between 1-5 on event day

Confidence through modeling

  • Use projecting TSS to model your taper toward your target event

Tapering for skeptics

  • Do you train enough to taper?
  • Look for patterns in your data
  • Reduce volume while maintaining frequency and intensity

Further Reading

  • Effects of Tapering on Performance: A Meta-Analysis.  Bosquet (2007)
  • Intense training: the key to optimal performance before and during the taper.  Mujika, 2010

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