How Not to Mess Up Taper

  • Posted on
  • By Eric Turner

As athletes gear up for their A races coach Eric shares some tips to make sure you don't mess up your taper this year.

It’s that time of year again….A Race season. Gearing up for the big finale has a lot of people entering their taper mode over the next couple months, so let’s chat about a couple ways to make sure you don’t totally mess up your taper and throw all that hard work right out the window.


  1. Control The Diet: Gaining a couple pounds during taper is expected. You are starting to wind down the intensity and duration (and calories burned), but it always takes the appetite a couple days to adjust. It’s important here not to go to crazy, you don’t want to over or under compensate for the slowdown in calorie burn. Keeping an extra close eye on the calories going into the body and the pounds on the scale can be extra beneficial during the taper. Try not to fluctuate more than 1/2% in body weight during taper.
  2. Keep The Sleep Schedule: Sometimes when the intensity and duration drop, we may not feel as tired at the end of the day. While this is always a welcome feeling, even small changes to our sleep schedule can have significant side effects to training and recovery. Try to make sure you keep your bed time consistent even as you start to wind down.
  3. Don’t Over Hydrate: I remember going with my dad to Memphis in May one year in the mid ‘90’s. It was a HOT and HUMID May day in Tennessee and at the pre-race meeting the day before, the race staff presented their motto of “Pee Clear.” My dad took this to heart and was slamming water bottle after water bottle before the race. The result, he felt sluggish and full the whole race, and didn’t turn in a particularly fast time. My point here is, especially for hot weather races, I have seen people overdo the hydration as they lead into race day. Make sure you are mixing in an electrolyte drink (like Nuun) into your daily hydration plan and ignore outdated advice to “Pee Clear” and instead shoot for pale lemonade colored pee in the days leading up to the race.
  4. Do Not Try to Gain Fitness: I am going to be straight with you here. There are no gains to be made in the last 10-14 days of your season, only gains to be lost. All the fitness you have as you enter your taper is the maximum amount of fitness you’re going to have for race day. There’s no magic last minute workout that is going to put you over the edge to your goal. Stay focused on the taper and getting the rest you need.
  5. Bring Back the Little Things: Throughout the year a lot of little things can get tossed to the side. Those 15 minutes of foam rolling you promised you’d do every day, the meditation each morning or the stretching you said you’d do at your desk midday? Yeah remember those? Time to make sure you get them in.


Tapering should be an exciting time of year. You should itch to be ‘released’ on race day. Keep these couple things in mind as you near the conclusion of your season and when the gun goes, you’ll be ready to rock.