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Intelligent Triathlon Talk, Issue #21-, Optimise Race Taper
May 13, 2015

Intelligent Triathlon Talk

May 2015, Issue No 21

Welcome to Intelligent Triathlon Talk.

In this issue:

  • ITT Athlete Race Results: Results plus Ironman Australia review

  • Training Tip: Optimise your taper for peak performance

  • Meet Our Athletes: Kim Morrison and Cat Jameson

  • Got an Achilles Injury? We’ve got a new e-book to help you get back running injury-free

Race Results

Many of our athletes have started racing, with some great results over the past couple of weeks:
  • Cat Jameson: Challenge Fuetreventura 70.3; 7th Pro

  • Will Clarke: Balearic Champs Standard Distance; 1st

  • Kim Morrison: Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix; 10th overall, 3rd in age group

  • Adam Williams: Ironman Australia; 39th overall, 8th in age group

  • Alex Mead: Leicester Sprint Triathlon; 7th overall, 2nd in age group

  • Matt Dewis: National MTB Marathon Champs; 43rd

  • Mark Allport: Half-marathon; ran 1’36’16” to beat his pb for 10k (47’30”) in the first and 2nd 10-kms of the race.

Adam Williams has written a review of the past 6 months training and racing in the lead up to Ironman Australia, and also a report of the race, including lots of great tips for people preparing for an Ironman.

You can read it here: Adam Williams Ironman Australia

Optimise Your Taper For Race Day

There is a lot of published data about tapering, and various figures and models get bandied around about the optimal taper. However in our experience many of these studies and conclusions cannot be applied meaningfully to most triathletes.

Taper is about common sense and finding what works for you. We know athletes who race best under quite a load into the race, and others for whom this would be a disaster. The key point is that there needs to be recovery somewhere in the not too distant past before a race.

One of the limitations in most of the scientific studies is that they rely on single discipline sports, and usually for races lasting less than 15 minutes. Some studies have tried to use triathletes but using principles from single disciplines.

This is a link for a paper by a well respected expert in the field of tapering Inigo Mujika. Whilst it doesn’t provide any magic pills to produce the optimal performance, and is ultimately very vague about the best strategy it does raise some interesting points: Inigo tapering article

It is also predominantly focused upon Olympic distance triathlon racing. There is no meaningful scientific literature to our knowledge on tapering for long distance triathlons (Ironman).

We have a detailed article on tapering on our website: Taper for triathlon

Here is an overview of how we approach tapering with our athletes.

Key points that we use in a taper:

  • Frequency of sessions: Don’t reduce the number of sessions you do per week too drastically. The body will not know how to react to the sudden removal of routine.

  • Intensity: Some people need to maintain some intensity into a race, for others this tires them out. Some feel better when training lots but not too hard. So experiment to find out what you react well to.

  • Rest: If you are going to maintain session frequency you have to reduce the load (volume and/or intensity) of the sessions. If you’ve been training hard you will need some more significant rest (days off or a big reduction in training load) prior to the race.
If you have a major race, you want to be confident in what you are about to do in preparation for this race. So the best way to ensure your taper will work for you is to practice it in the lead up to a less important race.

Also if you alter your training volume, intensity or frequency for reasons such as lack of training time, injury etc, you will probably start to get a feel for how your body responds to a reduction in training. For example you might have a week of low intensity sessions because you have a cold and come back flying.

Typically for long races (middle distance upwards) we will look to try and finish all the hard work in training 4 weeks prior to the main event. Then we will spend ~ 7 – 10 days getting into a positive energy state, with lots of rest (here we would reduce intensity and frequency of sessions by a significant amount (>50% of a ‘normal’ week).

Then when we (coach and athlete) feel it is right we begin to put training frequency back in, but still at a lower load. Then maybe 12 – 8 days prior to the race we will do a couple of very high load sessions, (high volume and race pace efforts).

These usually feel somewhere between awful and OK. This is reconditioning the body to the work required. Then we maintain normal frequency into the race with a few bouts of tempo work but at much reduced volumes.

This is a principle we’ve recently used with Adam Williams who has just PBd by a massive margin in Ironman Australia.

The same weekend Adam was racing in Australia, another of our coached athletes was taking on her first 70.3 race.

Kim Morrison used a similar taper on her way to a 4th overall age-group female and 10th female including the pros in Ironman 70.3 Pay d’Aix (although apparently one of the age-groupers is actually and Xterra pro, so a but naughty really).

Here is Kim to introduce herself to you all.

Meet Our Athletes

Kim Morrison

“A bit of background: I absolutely love what I do, always have done and always will.

From university hockey to the world of taking my Mathematics degree to the big City of London I have now found a love for Triathlon.

So much so my husband has kindly moved back to Norfolk with me where we now work for our family run business Wensum Pools.

I raced as an AG in 2013, and in 2014 I became European AG Champion and had a hit out on the British Super Series.

My goals for 2015: AG Ironmanv70.3 World Championships and a Championship British title at the middle distance.

What’s it like being coached by Mark @ Intelligent Triathlon Training: My husband loves an article or two when it comes to triathlon and he read Will Clarke's intriguing blog which led us to IntelliTri and Mark Pearce.

Working with Mark is straight forward, to the point, logical and simply brilliant. I have been part of two exceptional camps at the beginning of this year which Mark gets spot on.

I appreciate his support and passion towards my goals. We are realistically aligned and I look forward to our 2015 season”.

We’ve also been working with Cat Jameson for ~ 18 months now and we’ve mentioned her in past newsletters, so its about time we introduced her to you all……

Cat Jameson

"Hi, I'm Catherine Emma Jameson and I am a professional non-drafting triathlete.

I’ve been doing triathlon now for just over four years so I still feel relatively new to the sport compared to a lot of the other girls who I race against.

It was my husband, Joel Jameson who got me into triathlon originally as he is also a professional long distant athlete.

Previous to triathlon I studied at Loughborough University where I did my degree and masters degree whilst swimming with the high performance swim squad.

I’ve always swum to a high level but I was actually a sprint swimmer with my best events being the 50m and 100m fly/free. I used to think racing a 200m was a long way!

Over the past few years I have competed in the non-drafting Olympic distance series called the 5150 and I have qualified for the world championships where only the top 30 men and women race in the world compete.

This year, however, I am taking on a new challenge and stepping up to compete in some half distance races alongside the non drafting Olympic distance.

In fact, I just finished 7th in my first ever half distance race out in Challenge Fuerteventura last weekend. It was a tough but great day and I had a very solid race where I learnt lots but had fun at the same time!

I’ve been coached by Mark now for around one and a half years and I love the style of his coaching. It's great that we are based in the same location so I can see him often and he is there for my sessions and can constantly keep a check on what I am doing.

It works really well as he also comes out with me on my hard bike sessions either in the car or on his bike too to encourage me so I get the best out of the session. Secretly when he is behind me on the bike I am just trying to drop him, which is pretty hard, but I just have to hope for a big hill where I can push on!

Training is going really well at the moment and it is great that Mark has lots of experience to draw on so that we can discuss the schedule and what steps to take next. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2015 has to bring."


If you like what you read here and want to be a part of the Intelligent Triathlon Training (Intellitri) family then please Contact Us , we have a couple of places available on our coaching roster and would love to hear from passionate triathletes who want to reach or exceed their goals.

Achilles Injury?

Do you have an achilles injury? If so, our new e-book, Curing your Achilles Tendinitis can help get you back running pain-free!

You can find out more about this book here: Achilles ebook

That's all for this edition.

Good luck with the up-coming race season!

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Comments? Ideas? Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact us.

See you next time!

Rhona & Mark

© 2015, Intelligent Triathlon Training, published by Rhona Pearce. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.

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