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The Art of Tapering

BY MARLENE ROYLE | PHOTO BY LISA WORTHY

Being well rested is the best thing you can do for yourself physically and mentally to be ready to race. Rowers often find it tough to scale back and reduce training until race day. Be confident that you won’t lose your fitness when you allow your body some serious recovery. Here are some tips for how to navigate those final weeks so you’re ready to race your best:

Begin working in your taper period about three weeks from your race date. Because the taper follows a period of intense training, you’ll probably welcome these first few days of cutting back. Reducing your weekly training time by 20 to 25 percent this week gives your body a chance to recover from all the hard sessions by replenishing depleted glycogen supplies and repairing tissue damage. For example, if you were doing eight 500-meter intervals, reduce to six intervals, or if your longest row was 80 minutes, reduce it to 60. 

When you’re two weeks out from your time to peak, reduce your volume another 20 to 25 percent. For some, this week can be anxiety-inducing because you’ll have much more free time to be thinking of your starts since practices on the water get shorter. You might feel that you’re losing fitness but you will not. Review your logbook and pay attention to all the work you have done to get ready for your event. The key during the final two weeks of training is to make your speed work as race-specific and boat-specific as possible. 

The final week before your race is all about staying rested and getting prepared mentally. Being rested is a big component of mental toughness. Aim to sleep eight hours a night and reduce stress so your glycogen and hydration levels come up to normal. To combat jittery nerves, do things you enjoy that relax or help inspire you. Fill your mind with positives and focus on what you do best in the boat.   

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