"The main aim of the taper is to reduce the negative physiological and psychological impact of daily training. In other words, a taper should eliminate accumulated or residual fatigue, which translates into additional fitness gains. To test this assumption, Mujika and colleagues (1996a) analyzed the responses to three taper segments in a group of national- and international-level swimmers by means of a mathematical model, which computed fatigue and fitness indicators from the combined effects of a negative and a positive function representing, respectively, the negative and positive influence of training on performance (figure 1.1). As can be observed in figure 1.1, NI (negative influence) represents the initial decay in performance taking place after a training bout and PI (positive influence) a subsequent phase of supercompensation.
The mathematical model indicated that performance gains during the tapering segments were mainly related to marked reductions in the negative influence of training, coupled with slight increases in the positive influence of training (figure 1.2). The investigators suggested that athletes should have achieved most or all of the expected physiological adaptations by the time they start tapering, eliciting improved performance levels as soon as accumulated fatigue fades away and performance-enhancing adaptations become apparent.
The conclusions of Mujika and colleagues (1996a), drawn from real training and competition data from elite athletes but attained by mathematical procedures, were supported by several biological and psychological findings extracted from the scientific literature on tapering. For instance, in a subsequent study on competitive swimmers, Mujika and colleagues (1996d) reported a significant correlation between the percentage change in the testosterone-cortisol ratio and the percentage performance improvement during a 4-week taper. Plasma concentrations of androgens and cortisol have been used in the past as indexes of anabolic and catabolic tissue activities, respectively (Adlercreutz et al. 1986). Given that the balance between anabolic and catabolic hormones may have important implications for recovery processes after intense training bouts, the testosterone-cortisol ratio has been proposed and used as a marker of training stress (Adlercreutz et al. 1986, Kuoppasalmi and Adlercreutz 1985). Accordingly, the observed increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio during the taper would indicate enhanced recovery and elimination of accumulated fatigue. This would be the case regardless of whether the increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio was the result of a decreased cortisol concentration (Bonifazi et al. 2000, Mujika et al. 1996c) or an increased testosterone concentration subsequent to an enhanced pituitary response to the preceding time of intensive training (Busso et al. 1992, Mujika et al. 1996d, Mujika et al. 2002a)."
Laura Sophiea (born in 1955) plunged into Kailua Bay for the first leg of the 2007 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and followed a friend through the chaos of arms and legs splashing through the water. Almost immediately two men-"big, rude, and mean," as Sophiea put it-swam over her. She panicked and began to tread water. Then she found a pair of quick feet and followed them until the three-quarter mark where she was kicked so hard in the nose and lips that she saw stars. She checked for blood and kept going. Sophiea always expects tumult in the swim of the Ironman and trains in the pool by swimming fast at the start of her workout and then backs off a bit in the middle before piling on strong intervals at the end to mimic the mad rush at the conclusion of the 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim.
Next up, the bike. The 112-mile (180 km) ride is famous for its heat and winds, and in 2007 it was worse than usual. Aside from a 7-mile (11.2 km) stretch when the coastal breezes were at her back, Sophiea was buffeted by headwinds and crosswinds over the entire course. She saw one rider get hit by a car. Sometimes the wind was so strong over the lava fields that it pushed her bike at will. Usually cyclists share their annoyance as they pass each other. But on this day, they were quiet.
The marathon is what worried her the most. She had torn her hamstring some three months earlier. Sophiea was 52 years old and this was her 17th Ironman. She has fared remarkably well over the years while training for one of the toughest endurance events in the world. True, there was the time in 2000 when she competed in Ironman with a broken back. And in 1991, she wondered whether she would be suitably hydrated if she had to pull off the course and breast-feed her youngest daughter. But the run would be a test. She had spent hours getting massages to speed the healing of her leg. And she had practiced visualization to help her run pain free. She had backed off on her running from 35 miles (56 km) a week to 20 (32 km) in the final run-up to the race. She wondered whether the lower mileage would hurt her endurance or if all of the pounding would harm the hamstring.
It turned out it was the front of her legs, the quadriceps, that seemed tired as she transitioned into the run. She had already logged nearly an eight-hour day on the course. She was in first place in her age group. But the woman in second was only eight minutes behind. Mentally, miles 7 to 14 were the toughest in years-there was still so much ahead. As the miles droned on, so did the self-doubt. Why had she taken this on again?
She tried sipping a Coke, which helped her pick up the pace. In the final miles, she began feeling better and started to enjoy the race. As she neared the end, she could hear the music playing. I watched footage of Sophiea finishing the race on Ironman’s Web site. Thousands of people lined Alii Drive in Kona and cheered as the athletes passed. The pace quickened as Ironman announcer Mike Reilly told the runners the clock was closing in on 11 hours.
The men and women around her were all younger. Most of the finishers seemed to ignore their fatigue and were bounding for joy as the end drew near. One man brought in his children for the final yards as athlete, son, and daughter held hands and crossed the finish line together.
"Laura Sophiea from Birmingham, Michigan," Reilly shouted over the loudspeaker as she rounded the corner and came into view. Sophiea was running strong, wearing a white sleeveless top and black running shorts.
"Way to go, Laura! Course record holder right here, 50 to 54! Laura Sophiea! Breaking 11 hours!"
Sophiea had won her age group in the Ironman again, coming in at 10:59:32, maintaining an 8-minute gap on her closest challenger. She pumped her arms triumphantly and smiled and waved to the crowd.
Then suddenly she veered sideways and started to fall. Two red-shirted attendants grabbed her and threw a towel over her shoulders. Then came a third, a fourth, and a fifth-all of them struggling to hold her up. In a moment, her joy turned to pain; the sparkle in her eyes grew as distant as a fallen prizefighter’s.
Medical personnel rushed her into a tent, where two liters of saline dripped into the vein of an arm. An hour afterward, she vomited what little remained in her stomach.
For Sophiea, it was a typical Ironman finish. For all of her training and experience, each year she always bonks at the end, sapping every ounce of energy until it doesn’t matter anymore. She told me her collapses at the Ironman do not bother her. She even viewed the extra liter of saline she received as a bonus-a gift-that helped her get back in the groove for her next race a month later in Clearwater, Florida.
Ordinarily, she would have flown back to Michigan a day after Ironman and sleepwalked her way through work for the rest of the week. But it had been a momentous year. She had taken a leave from her job as a librarian and media specialist at a middle school. Afterward, she stayed an extra two weeks in Kona to recuperate and resume training.
If this is your first race, your mind is likely racing, pardon the pun. If not your first race, your over your first time jitters and just want to have a better race, faster time, or move up in distance.
John Mora published Triathlon 101 for those new to the sport and those wishing to get an edge in their training and in their next race. In this 2nd edition of Triathlon 101, you'll find topics such as:
- Choose the best equipment for your goals, terrain, and budget.
- Create your own triathlon program for various distances and events.
- Know how, when, and what to eat and drink when training or competing.
- Prevent overtraining and recover from common injuries.
- Swim and navigate in open water.
- Smoothly and quickly transition from one leg of the
How about the "Great Divide Race" which follows the US Continental Divide for 2,490 miles of cycling?
How about a Deca IronMan with a 24 mile swim, 1120 mile bike and a 262 mile run? Here's their website.
Having never attempted one but from what I can gather, finishing depends a great deal on your mental fortitude; how tired you feel, how exhausted you are, and how the cold and hot plays games with your mind.
Assuming a high level of fitness and training, part of these finishes might be determined by nutrition - have you practiced your nutritional in take on road and in all sorts of weather. Which leads me to this excerpt reprinted with permission by Human Kinetics. The book is "Endurance Sports Nutrition", by Suzanne Girard Eberle.
"The biggest danger with multiday rides, runs, treks and tours, cycling classics, sports camps, and climbing expeditions is incomplete recovery—
It's not often I can do this but the following is an excerpt from an upcoming book (currently only available as a pre-order), Triathlon 101 (Human Kinetics, due out March, 2009). In this updated edition reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics, Triathlon 101, you'll learn the five training phases for triathlon success.
In this terrific excerpt reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics, Championship Triathlon Training, you'll learn a few techniques to keeping your mind sharp and on task, a DEFINITE skill used by top athletes.
Many areas of life can produce psychoemotional difficulty or anxiety. Whether
There's a good post over on completerunning.com called Know Thyself. It says that it all starts with motivation, but how do you get the motivation? The blog answers it more from a standpoint of what's standing in the way of your motivation. Knowing why you do things can help you understand the process. Enjoy!
Race season is starting, you're getting "geared" up, maybe a little anxious or nervous, maybe a little excited. Perhaps you are WAY nervous and excited, especially if this is your first race, not knowing what to expect. Before I go on let me tell you to expect to have fun.
This an appropriate excerpt for this time of year as your body has adapted to training and your mind wonders about the race. It's an excerpt from Timothy Noakes', The Lore Of Running." If you've ever read or browsed the book you know it is a THOROUGH book on everything running.
It is well documented in psychology texts that there are seven basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, love, fear, shame, and surprise. Other emotions are regarded as combinations of these basic seven. The emotions you feel in any situation and how you respond to them will depend