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Execute race week taper workouts to nail your peak


Enjoying a fun course on the way to 2nd place

Arriving at the start line of your goal event in peak form demands a lot of hard work and dedicated training. Correctly executing the final race-week workouts is an essential ingredient to the peaking recipe. The hard work of the prior months is in the bank; in this final week the goals are to stay sharp while releasing any remaining fatigue. Do this by reducing training volume while keeping intensity and frequency near recent levels.

Getting the intensity right in these shorter workouts is tricky. You’re feeling great as you taper into race day. Add to that excitement for your fast approaching event and it becomes easy to go too hard. Stick to the planned intensity! Going over target will make for tired legs on race day. Save your PRs for your event.

Here is a race week workout from the Masters 40+ Cross Country Build, Peak and Race Plan for 5 days out from race day:

Duration: 1 hour

Warm up well then ride 10 minutes in power L3 or HRZ3, easy for a few minutes, then 3 x 3 minutes in power L5 or HRZ5 with 3 minutes easy spin recoveries after each interval. Keep cadence high during the 3 min intervals and any cadence during the 10 minute L3/Z3 efforts. Finish the ride time in Z1-2.

Sounds simple, right? Here are more details on how to properly execute this workout.

  • Warm up (15 min): 5 minutes noodling along very easy followed by 10 minutes gradually working up to mid HRZ2 or power level 2.
  • Tempo: transition from the warm up directly to 10 minutes of HRZ3 or power level 3. Pedal at your preferred cadence. Afterwards spin easy 3 minutes.
  • VO2 intervals: do 3 intervals of 3 minutes with 3 minutes very easy after each. Do these working up to HRZ5 or in power L5. Cadence is high: 90+ rpm if done uphill, 100+ rpm if done on a flat. Get the intensity right for these! Going over target today will increase training stress and jeopardize race day performance. Training by power, aim for the middle of your L5 range. Training with HR, it should take at least 90 seconds to hit HRZ5 and may take more. Avoid the temptation to hammer to get HR up quickly, meter your effort to let HR gradually rise to the zone.
  • Cool down (14 min): for the remaining duration keep cadence up and effort easy in HRZ1-2 or power L1-2.

That’s all there is to it. Stay on target, nail race week intensities without going over and hit the start line ready to rock a PR performance.