Training in the last week before a race

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by RapDaddyo, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I've never felt really comfortable with my training plan the last week before a target event. On the one hand, I want to taper and not go too hard. On the other hand, I want to ride. So, I've pretty well decided to limit my rides to ~100 TSS points per ride (compared with 150-200 normally). But, how to use the 100 points? Short and hard (e.g., 3x20s @ 100%FTP) or long and easy (1x90 @ 75%FTP)? Is there any actual evidence on the best tapering strategy?
     
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  2. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    The literature is unanimous that low-volume, high-intensity is the way to go for a taper.
     
  3. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    Bummer. Now I have to figure out how to not get fat.
     
  4. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    Nonsense. How long is your taper? It would take a miracle for you to gain more than a pound or so in actual fat.

    You'll probably gain a good deal more in raw weight, but most of it will be muscle glycogen, which is one of the positive effects of a taper. If you're not gaining 4 pounds or so, you probably aren't doing it right.
     
  5. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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    Hey KM, I shall be tapering for my 150km ride (come race) in 3 weeks from now. If you have the time I would appreciate your elaborating on the above statement. Cheers! TYSON ;)
     
  6. gvanwagner

    gvanwagner New Member

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    Tapering sucks. You build up the trianing load to super high levels and you feel like superman with a lot of momentum and then the taper week comes. The studies show that the high intensity and low volume is best but most of them test for shortish tests. A long taper for high intensity events and short one for long events. I used to do long taper but I realized that they hurt worse then help plus I gained weight. So now I only do a 4 day taper max.


    AWC/ Type 2 fibers are the main benefactors from a taper- aerobic capacity/endurance don't see nearly as good gains. TSB is probably shows the ability of AWC more than anything else. Plus AWC/Type 2 gains will stay the longest (probably 4 or more weeks of detraining) while aerobic gains crap out fairly quickly. So if the taper is too long then you'll be destroying any effort under 20 minutes provided you only have to do it once. And yes I learned this the hard way.

    Longer events/stage races get a short taper where high intensity events get a longer taper. The of course you whatr your training load going into the taper is, how many weeks you want form to last, personal preferences, and body composition all complicate my least favorite part of cycling. LIke I said tapering sucks. If you want your form to last 5 weeks though I wouldn't taper much at all for the early races- like 2 days easy before as long as you don't go crazy in the 5 or so days before the mini taper. YMMV

    Good luck
     
  7. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    I think it's pretty difficult for scientists to come up with meaningful evidence on this topic.

    There is this document here which I like (http://bmc.ub.uni-potsdam.de/1476-5918-4-4/). There are certainly other papers too.

    But tapering (like certain other areas of planning) is an 'art' as much as a 'science'. And for this reason, practical ground experience gathered by good coaches is probably as meaningful.

    Of course, you know very well what is the goal in tapering. That is getting rid of ATL, while maintaining CTL as high as possible. But it doesn't stop there. You have to preserve or focus more on certain areas of CTL. FTP and VO2Max require some particular attention.

    And so the questions I am always asking myself when planning tapers are :
    • What fitness qualities are required by the event for which I am planning this taper ?
    • What is the minumum 'intense volume of work' that I have to keep, in order for these important qualities to not fade away ?
    • How close to each other these workouts should be. I mean they should be separated by how many days ?
    • How much 'lower intensity volume of work' do I have to keep ?
    • The last few days before the event (I call it the landing, taper being the approach to this landing) what do I have to do in order to be sharp THE Day and THE Time of the race. (e.g. if the race start is 7am, and that I have never trained that early for the whole season, it may be a good idea to try few sessions at that time in approach to landing)

    Some will prefer 2 days completely off before THE Day (I can't understand how though, me I really hate having to compete after 1 day off).

    That's one disadvantage I find with linear type of training. If one always train in a linear way all year round, then he doesn't have many occasions to learn about his reaction to volontary scheduled easier weeks.

    Also I might add that the few couple of weeks prior the taper will determine in part the tapering strategy.
     
  8. normZurawski

    normZurawski New Member

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    It's certainly a tough week to get right, at least in your mind. The training weeks are easy enough to nail down, as well as the rest weeks - at least mentally. But I struggle on how to structure the Peak/Taper week.
     
  9. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    I'm just some guy on a bike. I've never coached anyone but myself, and my successes at that have been rarer than the failures. So, with that out of the way...

    A couple of studies find an "exponential" drop in training volume, with a half-life of one week, to be more effective than other tapering strategies (e.g., a linear reduction over several weeks, or a step-wise drop to a much lower level). Most studies also find that, even though individual athletes are really skeptical, you can maintain fitness in a taper much longer than you would think, even for longer events. E.g., this study of trained cyclists found peak performances in a 100km(!) time trial after two weeks of taper (which roughly fits with the predictions of TSTWKT, by the by).

    Check out coaching science abstracts, in particular this edition's section on tapering. Things that emerge from various studies of multiple endurance sports can be badly characterized thus:

    1. Taper for two weeks.
    2. Drop training volume to 1/2 the usual in wk 1, to 1/4 right before event.
    3. Low volume, high intensity.
    4. Train consistently during taper. I.e., don't drop the volume by dropping days and keeping the workouts just as long, rather, drop it by working out every day, but shorter.

    Tapering is easy to study, because it happens over a short period of time, and the results are significant enough that they're hard to argue with. So, the above tips are roughly in accordance with popular coaching practice, unlike so many other results from exer. phys.

    Anecdotally, I'll agree with others here that tapering helps AWC much more than aerobic ability, which in turn declines much more rapidly. I took 10 days completely off earlier in the season. At the end of the 10 days, I obliterated my maximum powers in the 30sec-3minute (L6) range, and the effect wasn't subtle. E.g., I tacked on 70W to my previous 1 minute max. However, I'd lost 20W of FT, 10 W of which came back almost immediately (I'd say in the first week of retraining), and the next 10 W of which took the remainder of a three-week cycle focused on FT to regain. So, if your event doesn't include an AWC component, tapering might be a big waste of your time. However, more events include an AWC component than might be obvious...
     
  10. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Would you happen to have other good papers on the topic?
     
  11. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    I haven't actually read any of these papers, just their abstracts. I'm also a computer scientist by training, so am poorly positioned to judge the methodological, statistical, etc. soundness of any of them. However, all the studies, whether good or bad, seem to converge on something like 1-4 weeks, maintaining intensity and dropping volume, yielding a 3-5% performance improvement.

    Typing "taper cycling" and the like into pubmed yields gobs and gobs of papers. It looks as though Neary was the lead investigator for a lot of the more "applied," cycling performance-oriented investigations. E.g., this one examined 30%, 50%, and 80% stepwise tapers over 1 week, and found only 50% helped.
     
  12. gvanwagner

    gvanwagner New Member

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    I don't know. My theory on this is that
    1. The flatness of your P/D curve below 5MMP is one of the most important adaptations to training
    2. The steepness above 5MMP is also important- reflecting AWC
    3. You ( I know I do) Lose "flatness" extrememly quickly

    So I would think that a 2 week taper would only be best when you've been training hard for a long term ( like 5 months since your last taper/rest/interruption) and you don't care about your performance in the next 2-3 months.

    EX. In awesome shape my 5MMP is 1.30IF and I can regularly nail 4 hr rides at IF's of .85. In about a wk of tapering/ a training interruption those will go to around 1.33 and .80IF. While the FTP is reasonably easy to regain the long term endurance takes ages. After a bout a month of good training after a long interruption they will be around 1.38 and .78 respectively.

    The same thing has happened to me time and time again- either a taper or a training interruption and I can knock out some pretty scary numbers for durations 15min or less but trying to repeats efforts is no good. And if it gets longer then 15 min then Im screwed. I learned that this season so in the future I'll be a lot more conservative with tapers.

    That being said if I was tapering for a pursuit that would definately get 1.5 of taper.

    So maybe Im just paranoid but Id rather not risk it. I'd take 2-3 easy days then your gauranteed that at least your fitness will be good and you'll be reasonably fresh as opposed to trying to be like Icarus.
     
  13. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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    Well, reading through all this I hope I've got it right. With the 150km being mostly flat, only 1 short hill of any significance and no sprints involved, a 2 week taper is out. So on the Sunday before the ride of the following Sunday, a 110km tough ride in the mountains (keeping the pace moderate) will do no harm. Right?

    Monday is always my day off.
    Tues on the trainer - one high intensity 20 minute interval (L4) - cool down.
    Wed on the trainer - (L5) VO2 Max workout - cool down
    Thurs on the trainer - (L6) 4 instead of 6x2mins - cool down
    Frid on the trainer - (L2/3) spin 40 mins (or maybe complete rest)
    Sat - Complete rest

    How does that sound guys? ;) TYSON
     
  14. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    full study available here That's pretty much the most relevant study I have found so far on this topic.
     
  15. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Very important distinction. And that's the reason why I think it's hard to conduct a significant scientific study on this topic. All studies that I have read so far involve a 2 or 3 week (only) training regiment prior the taper. Without knowing about the overall training picture of the subjects, it's hard to figure out to which extent the conclusions apply in the real life.

    But that will probably change with Performance Manager concept. Because at least we'll be able to know about subjects CTL and ATL.
     
  16. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I think I would keep it simple, such as cut your volume by 50% in the week before your event (same intensities).
     
  17. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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  18. asgelle

    asgelle New Member

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    Inigo Mujika gave a talk recently about tapering using the impulse response model (similar to the performance manager) and how the taper can be tuned to the time constants. His results came from swimmers, but knowing how the inpulse response model works across many sports, I'd expect much of the information would be common to cycling. These are two papers the talk was based on (I haven't read the papers themselves).
    http://www.ms-se.com/pt/re/msse/abs...4p0D5pgTSyQnhdW!1170142312!-949856145!8091!-1

    http://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/sportsmed/doi/10.1055/s-2002-35526
     
  19. gvanwagner

    gvanwagner New Member

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  20. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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    interesting, I take it you're in favour of a pretty short taper then? :)

    Re the P-D curve shape - well I guess it's never really flat - just some degree of curvature that can change over time. From my n=1 experience, it seems possible to lessen the curvature over time by riding pretty hard for fairly long periods of time, i.e. SST, but for me it takes perhaps months of training to notice substantial changes.

    rmur
     
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