Resting also part of race program
TO PERFORM well at any distance, in any event, your training program needs to include a period of tapering.
Tapering is about slowing down, with the focus being on resting and recovering, to ensure that you are fresh and ready to perform when you wake up on race morning.
Like every aspect of not only triathlon, but any sport where any level of endurance is required, the tapering process will be different depending on who you speak to and how your body (and mind) works.
And so it should, as there is never a one size fits all approach to tapering, just like there is never a one size fits all approach to training.
There are some very standard rules, though, that at the bare minimum should be included in your tapering process.
Your tapering period is always dependant on the length of your race.
For an Ironman triathlon, for example, one to two weeks of tapering will be required, to allow you to freshen up and recover adequately.
Alternatively, if your race is a sprint distance triathlon, you may only taper for one to two days.
Your tapering period should always include a day of total rest, including no training, on the second last day before your event.
Two days before your event, you should be ready to race, and your body and mind should be in total rest mode.
Your training is done, you have peaked for your event, and in two days time, you will bounce out of bed and bust out a 10 hour Ironman (and qualify to go to the Kona Ironman in Hawaii).
Your tapering period should always include some race pace efforts (with sessions decreasing in length as the race approaches).
This will ensure that your body and mind are ready to take on the event at the speed that you want to compete at.
You can't expect to race at a pace that you have not trained at.
You may get lucky, and you might surprise yourself, but the law of averages says that your race finishing time will be a reflection of the times that you are able to produce consistently during training. Which makes sense.
Finally, your tapering should include race pace efforts (for only very short periods - like minutes only) on the day prior to the event. This will really ignite your body and prepare it for a big day.
In summary, do race pace efforts during your tapering period, which should be as much as one to two weeks, for an event like Ironman.
Find a good couch, or hammock, for the second last day before the event where you will do no training at all.