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Workout: Your optimal taper week

You’ve followed your training schedules religiously.  Your fitness is at an all-time high.  You’re ready to toe the line for your next race of the season, but you still have to let your body rest up for a big effort. The lower volume days before a race is usually referred to as the “Taper Period.”

This can be as long as two weeks for Ironman and as little as three to four days for less important or shorter races. This taper period is critical to allow your body and mind to rest and be fully energized for the big day. The goal of the taper is to allow you to optimize your preparation, not gain additional fitness. Understanding this goal can make those antsy days pre-race a little easier to bear.  During this time, training volume should be reduced significantly, by up to 50 per cent depending on the race goal; however, continuing your regular training schedule and incorporating short race pace specific sets will allow you to maintain the endurance you developed during the initial preparation stage and to bring your dialled in race pace to the start line.

Try these three race prep sessions two to four days prior your next race to keep the system firing on all cylinders.  Concentrate on race visualization and feel throughout the sessions, bringing in the mindset and flow you want to attain on race day.

KEY: (Rests (R), minutes (‘), seconds (”), Warmup (WU), Cool down (CD), Main Set (MS), Race Pace (RP))

Swim (Olympic or half distance)

  • Warm Up
  • 2 x 200 m (swim) R: 20’’
  • 4 x 100 m (50 drills / 50 free) R: 15’’ Drill:  Scull in front, Fist only
  • 8 x 25 m  (1 fast / 1 easy) R: 10’’
  • Main Set
  • 3 x 200 m  (RP) R: 30’’
  • 8 x 100 m (2 RP / 1 easy) R: 15’’
  • R; 1’
  • 200 m RP
  • Cool Down:
  • 4 x 50 m easy choice R: 10’’   0



  • WU:  20’ easy pace, including 4 X 100m accelerations R: 1’
  • MS:  5 x 2’ (repeats 1-3-5 race pace / 2-4 slightly faster than race pace (5 or 10 km pace) R: 2’ between
  • CD:  easily 15’



  • WU: 20-30’ building up to just below RP.  Include 3X1’ RP effort / R: 1’
  • MS Pyramid: 4 min at RP, 3 min at RP, 2 min at RP, 1 min at RP, R:2’ between
  • CD:  20’ easy