Tapering, in the context of
sports, refers to the practice of reducing, or tapering off, exercise in the days just before an important competition. [cite web | last =Sun Devil Aquatics | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Glossary of Terms | work =Swim Levels, Meet Types | publisher = | date = | url =http://www.sundevilaquatics.com/parentscorner/glossary_terms.asp | format = | doi = | accessdate =2007-10-04 ] Tapering is customary in many endurance sports, such as the marathon, athletics and swimming. For many athletes, a significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance. The tapering period frequently lasts as much as a week or more.
As a general
rule of thumb, longer endurance events are generally preceded by longer tapering periods, with the curious exception of particularly long endurance competitions, such as ultramarathons and multiday races.
Typically, tapering for relatively short endurance events takes as little as a week or less, but tapering for an event like the marathon takes at least two or three weeks. Bob Cooper, a veteran marathoner and contributing editor for "
Runner's World", points to medical studies as evidence that the final three weeks of any marathon-training program are the most critical stage of training; a review of fifty studies on tapering indicates that optimal levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones, which are significantly depleted by intense endurance training, are achieved during a taper. [cite web | last =Cooper | first =Bob | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =It's Taper Time | work = | publisher = | date = | url =http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244-255-5958-0,00.html | format = | doi = | accessdate =2007-10-04 ]
Often, a workout simulating the actual race distance and conditions will climax the period of training immediately before tapering. "The taper should be preceded by your last long run", according to two-time American Olympian
Pete Pfitzinger. [cite web | last =Pfitzinger | first =Pete | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =Tapering For A Marathon | work =the Pfitzinger Lab Report | publisher = | date = | url =http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreports/marathontaper.shtml | format = | doi = | accessdate =2007-10-04 ]
* [http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreports/marathontaper.shtml Pfitzinger.com] - "Tapering for a Marathon",
* [http://www.marathontraining.com/marathon/m_taper.html MarathonTraining.com] - "Marathon Training Program: Tapering"
* [http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244--10201-0,00.html RunnersWorld.com] - "Taper Traps", Dave Kuehls, "
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