Archive for July 7, 2009

Championship Physiology/Peaking & Tapering

Posted in Championship Physiology on July 7, 2009 by bethleasure

Peaks & Valleys

16“Your training graph should have lots of peaks and valleys.” Ned Overend, Mountain Bike Hall of Famer


TaperingBreakthroughs to winning performances are the result of constant pressure, little by little, with a restoration phase unique to each champion and championship. Much is said of peaking but the substance of it is in the tapering.

One fact of tapering is that a refreshing period to stimulate the peak must include some intensity; however, volume can vary so long as it provides relaxation and makes one hungry for the goal event. There are various types of tapers just as there are types of periodization programs. Linear types are often used – progressive load followed by progressive declines in volume or intensity. Current 17research is inconclusive in discovering an optimal type. As is the case for much of physiology, champions learn what form of rest precedes personal peak performance. Some respond best if a taper allows rest first and then a re-ramping of intensity with volume. Some respond better with an incremental decrease of effort leading to the event or with exponential decreases- a big drop in load followed by a smaller drop or a small ease followed by a bigger drop.

Taper duration can also vary from days to several weeks and is specific to individual as well as type of event; for instance, anaerobic peaks occur after a longer lay-off but compromise LT power. As part of type or duration, the period leading up to the event must be designed to reduce training-induced fatigue without reversing specific training adaptations. So a rest before a Classic has different characteristics than rest before a Grand Tour. A champion journey takes its strength from each place while using measured rests to reach the top.


Prayer for Peaking & Tapering
“As they pass through the dry lonesome valleys, they make it a place of good water…They go from strength to strength. God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!” 18Psalm 84:6-7


We confess we think of breakthrough as an overnight miracle when really it’s made available by constant momentum of varying paces that finally reaches a destination point. We ask for strength to strength.


Ponder Is finding my best taper a part of my training? Affirm I can try various ways to lay-off to come back even stronger. Watch for those “feed zones” into the climb of peak performance.


16“Ned Overend Keeps Going and Going,” by Peggy McKay Shinn for as posted on

17“Peaking & Tapering,” presented by Inigo Mujika, Department of Research & Development, Bilboa Athletic Club, in a USA Cycling webinar April, 2008.

18New Life Version Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International and The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson