So here I am, 3 weeks before the biggest, scariest 7 days I am pretty sure I will ever spend on a bike. I have trained pretty well since late last year, I think, but I have one more crucial hurdle to get over – the dreaded ‘peak week / taper’ combo.
I won’t insult you by explaining these two concepts in much detail (not because I can’t of course…no, definitely not because I can’t), but my guess is that the following might not be too far from the truth:
Peak Week (or month, or whatever): Where you increase your normal workload by an unknown percentage (I am reading ‘up to 20%’ at the moment) and hold that for the pre-determined period of time, e.g. a week. This puts a lot of stress on the body, ‘loads’ you with training and your body, the ever-amazing machine that it is, should do the following once you are done punishing it.
Taper: During the week (or whatever) that you have now between the end of your peak week and your event, your body will recover and then some. This is called ‘super-compensation’. PezCycling just told me that I could reduce my volume by up 60% this week (so let’s say 10 hours instead of 16) but keep the same amount of intensity (i.e. cut out the base-mile fluff and keep the same number of hours of hard riding as before). Assuming this is what I end up doing, the trick here is to time it all correctly so that the following magically occurs:
1. You train hard enough (but not too much) that the body does actually recover in that week and doesn’t just give up the ghost because you have ‘over-trained’ it (which could take months to get back to normal).
2. Your body pulls that super-compensation just before your event starts and not 5 days before (or worse – 5 days into it!).
Right now I’ve got a stretch of 7 days of over-loading planned, with another 7 days of ‘taper’ (less riding, but not nothing). I am now trying to determine:
a) Is this correct?
b) How big should my ‘big’ days be within the peak week.
c) What the heck should I do during the taper.
Luckily I’ve got the internet and Coach Rob to help, but I thought I’d throw out the question to those who might have done stage races (sorry, one-day races don’t count this time) and how you prepared your last couple of weeks for them. Ex-Haute Route participants are most welcome!