Dave Scott’s Perfect IRONMAN World Championship Taper

From TrainingPeaks

By Dave Scott

Over the years I’ve seen many athletes not achieve their full potential in races because they failed to execute a proper IRONMAN taper.

I’ve witnessed triathletes who have not backed off enough and were tired and flat at the event; I’ve also seen those who have dialed back their training far too much, and dulled the fitness that they had taken months to hone.

Follow my prescription as we countdown to race day in Kona, and you’ll arrive at the starting line with that perfect mix of expansive aerobic capability and sharp, high-intensity output that will propel you to an optimal performance.

While this is written with the IRONMAN World Championship in mind, it will work for any IRONMAN you may be racing. Tapering is an art form, so above all else, listen to your own body.

22 Days to 10 Days Before The Race

1. Maintain your schedule. Maintain the same number of training days per week and follow your typical schedule. If you normally run on Tuesdays, then continue to do it! Don’t alter things.

2. Long training days. Your training is nearly complete, and so you should resist “cramming in” your final long workouts too close to the event. If you’re planning a long run, schedule your last one 18 to 22 days before the race. Your last long bike should take place 14 to 21 days from race day. Your long swim: Nine to 10 days prior.

3. Maintain “race-like intensity,” but reduce the segment length of repeats. There is a great physiological return on reducing your sub-threshold and threshold training to between 90 second to 3.5 minutes per repeat.

These shorter segments—even with complete recovery—will not leave you whipped after the workout. By resisting the temptation to lengthen the repeats, you’ll maintain the adaptive stress of the session and enhance your day-to-day recovery.

An example set is: 3 x 3.5 min + 3 x 90 sec + 3 x 2.5 min + 3 x 90 sec. The rest interval between repeats should be long enough to maintain the desired intensity throughout the workout.

4. Notice improved performance. One characteristic of a proper taper is that you’ll begin to feel a bit fresher during and after the workouts, while experiencing a 2 percent to 5 percent increase in performance (either by comparing tangible measurements or Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)).

For example, all of your training sessions might feel easier with a concurrent increase in speed, watts or simultaneous reduction in heart rate.

Simply, you should begin to feel like you’re flowing at less effort. This sensation is a positive affirmation that your training has been effective and you’re on track for a good race.

Additionally, niggling stiffness or sore spots should subside. Acute soreness means you need to rest more or consider a combination of modalities to expedite the recovery (see #8 below).

5. Reduce overall training time. A reduction in total training time should start during this taper block. Looking at weekly training volumes, my suggestion is not to reduce the volumes by a fixed percentage.

The problem with this math is that the athletes who train 11 to 14 hours per week (i.e. most age-group athletes with full-time jobs and families) cannot compare themselves with those training 30-35 hours weekly (i.e. professional athletes and elite age group athletes).

The following are my percentage reductions based on your hours per week:

  • For those logging 11 to 14 hours per week, reduce your volume by about 15 percent.
  • If you’re typically training 15 to 22 hours, bring the volume down by 20 percent.
  • If you’re at 23 to 30 hours, then reduce that by 25 percent.
  • If you’re training more than 30 hours, then reduce that by 30 percent.

These percentage reductions should be reflected in all disciplines, and particularly in your run workouts. The eccentric load of the run slows the recovery process. Also be sure to look at your personal strengths and weaknesses and reduce accordingly.

6. Maintain your mobility, stretching and strength training. Eliminate the heavy lifts or explosive plyometrics, and reduce the weight and number of reps, but maintain your typical routine.

Take the exercises to fatigue but never to failure. If you’re on a minimal strength program, continue at least twice per week emphasizing core, gluteal, rotator and back strength, plus maintain joint mobility with foam rolling and stretching.

7. Watch your weight. Your goal is to neither gain weight nor hit your optimum race weight during this time block.

Eat nutrient-dense foods with healthy fats and protein at all meals. Cut back on simple carbohydrates.

Don’t alter your macronutrient balance. This is not the time to adjust your diet strategy! If you’re madly driven to lose weight during the final 10 days, then keep this weight loss to no more 0.5 percent of your body weight.

8. Continue your bodywork. Maintain treatments with your physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist or yoga routines. These are all good, but don’t try something new during this period!

Nine Days and Counting to Race Day….

Click here to read the rest of the article, including final taper and race day nerves strategy

Colorado Athletes in Kona: Meet Ben and Mike

Ben Kleeman

 

My road to triathlon began in 2002.   I started running and later biking to lose weight gained secondary to too many calories and a sedentary lifestyle.    At the start of my weight loss I was pushing 225 pounds (current weight 146).   I decided to give triathlon a go while living in St. Louis in 2007 and quickly learned despite being a high school lifeguard, I could not swim.   Nevertheless, I was hooked.

My road to Colorado began with the Boulder 70.3 in 2011.   My future wife, Kelly, and I traveled to Colorado early and I tried to get in as much “Colorado” as we could during this trip.   We went horseback riding in RMNP, ATV riding near Vail, hiking around The Springs, and saw the Flaming Lips cover Dark Side of the Moon at Red Rocks.    We also spent a significant amount of time in and around Boulder trying to soak up as much of the experience as possible.   The Boulder 70.3 went well despite all my computers failing during the bike and run.    Kelly, who serves as my coach (motivational, nutrition, and anything else as needed) and my biggest fan, met me at the finish to inform me of my result, a 23 min PR and first sub 5-hour finish.   Our trip to Colorado was perfect.   Once again, we were hooked.    We were so hooked in fact, we set the plan of moving to Colorado in motion immediately and made the move three months after the Boulder 70.3.

The journey to Ironman began during our honeymoon at IM Cozumel in 2013.    IM Cozumel went much better than expected for both of us.  We left the island in high spirits with some new friends and good finishes under our belts.  I signed up for the inaugural IM Boulder expecting good results 9 months after Cozumel, but was disappointed with a disastrous result, at least in my mind.   The 2014 IM Boulder triathlon was so disappointing I left the sport to pursue other interests.   

In 2016 I began training for marathons and started feeling the itch to race IM again.   This time around, I began to take training more seriously.   I hired a friend, Boulder native, and professional triathlete Colin Laughery to guide this effort towards racing the 2017 IM season.  We chose IM Boulder and IM CDA as our plan A and B races.   The 2017 IM Boulder was an epic defeat with the dreaded DNF.   IM CDA was only a couple months after Boulder.   I needed big changes to prevent this perpetual cycle of training well and racing poorly.  These changes came from many places.   My primary training and race strategy was handled by coach Colin.   Nutrition and CDA course specific advice came from my friend Alison Freeman who is also a tri coach in Boulder.   My swim coach Dave Scott helped me with race strategy as well.   Most importantly, Kelly kicked up her efforts as my motivational coach to try and break this mental block and help me mentally prepare for race day.  I approached IM CDA with one goal, to have fun racing again.  The swim went ok and the bike went well.   I learned I was in 12th in my age group off the bike from my wife who was proving to be instrumental again.   Going into the last lap of the three-lap run, my Kelly informed me I was only a couple minutes back from 5th place and 4th place was struggling.   I was hurting at this point in the race, and her support and information was just what I needed to kick it up a notch.   I knew there were extra slots in IM CDA this year and 4th place may be just enough to qualify.  I hustled up and caught 5th place at mile 20 and went into 4th place at mile 24 which was good enough for a spot for Kona!   All my friends and family were following the race and elated with the result; however, no one was more excited than my wife and biggest fan who met me at the finish.  I met my goal.  I had fun racing again but with a secondary bonus of a trip to the Big Island!

Ironman racing requires sacrifice.  The greatest sacrifice comes not from the athlete but from the family and friends.   Without the support of friends and family, Ironman is not possible.  Thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported me in and out of competition throughout the years.    And most importantly, thank you to my beautiful wife Kelly, for being with me for every step in this journey.  It has been fun.


 

Mike Breyer

This will be my 4th trip to Kona (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017). I still feel like a rookie – but this year I feel I’ve finally worked out some of the gremlins in my race prep and plan. Who knows though, I felt that way last year and still managed to make a mess out of my race!

I’m an ER doctor in Denver and came across triathlon about 8 years ago when I was miserably out of shape. I climbed out of the pool one day about 40 pounds overweight and someone suggested a local triathlon. I bought a road bike and raced 20 days later. I was terrible but I was hooked.

I’m self-coached. I read a little but mostly just listen to my body and my mind as to what I want to do on any given day. Most days that means ride my bike. I believe sustainability and consistency are the most important ingredients to finding some success in this sport. Be happy training. Or you won’t do it. And it’s incredibly important (at least for me) to do something nearly every day.

I’m now 44 years old and set PR’s this year for Ironman (9:53 at IM Boulder, 2nd in my AG to get my Kona slot) and Half-Ironman (4:19 at Boulder 70.3, 3rd in my AG – in case you didn’t know, Steve Johnson and Tim Hola are really fast). I try to be active every day and enjoy the journey.

I feel very fortunate to have such a great group of friends, training partners and support system to be able to do this sport. And, of course, to live in Colorado. Good luck to everyone out there!

 

TrainingPeaks Endurance Coach Summit Brings Coaches to Boulder

Photo by Raeleigh Harris
Simon Butterworth of D3 Multisport
Photo by Raeleigh Harris

By Will Murray

More than 208 coaches converged in Boulder during the first week of August to attend the 2017 TrainingPeaks Endurance Coach Summit.

Held at the University of Colorado and co-sponsored by USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, this 3-day event focused on the business and science of coaching endurance athletes. Keynote speakers included six-time Ironman champion Dave Scott, USAT running coach Bobby McGee and Dirk Friel from TrainingPeaks.

Participants had the opportunity to listen to talks in sports physiology and coaching business. In this year’s format (2016 was the inaugural summit) there were 20-minute business roundtables, where coaches could break into small groups to hear quick presentations on business law, running a multi-coach business, enhancing your social media presence and using TrainingPeaks’ coach referral program.

Dave Scott
photo by Raeleigh Harris

The University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center showed off its facility with small-group sessions on swimming, strength training, running and cycling biomechanics and nutrition.

Networking opportunities were built into the design throughout. Roka hosted a swim workout and Dave Scott a run workout, both on Friday morning before sessions began. Retul hosted a pre-conference networking session at their new facility on Airport Road in Boulder.

Coach Raeleigh Harris said, “The summit showcased the best coaching methodology, technology and leadership available to us today, all in one location. Total immersion into this setting was invaluable moving forward in development of Coaching services and supporting platforms.”

Emceed by Barry Siff, President of USA Triathlon, this even earned coaches 12 CEUs. Training Peaks plans to bring this event back to Boulder in 2018.

Raeleigh Harris and Mitchell Reiss
Photo by Raeleigh Harris