Monday, October 10, 2011

Tapers and Cognitive Biases

Back in the spring, I asked Kevin Tilton about tapers and specifically mentioned Jim Johnson who races every weekend and I wondered what he could do if he, you know, tapered. Kevin thought tapers were overrated and mentioned that his best races were with little to no taper. I had heard this before from posters on the famous LRC message board but had discounted it as anecdotal evidence (which it is). I haven't really researched the ex phys literature but I do recall that Rob Sleamaker briefly reviewed evidence from the literature that claims a proper taper increases performance by 1-3% or something like that. I was thinking about this recently because of two races this year compared to last year. Compared to this year, I ran a faster pace at the Bradbury Breaker and the Craig Cup last year despite having run the Beach to Beacon the day before the Breaker and the Maine Marathon 6 days before the Craig Cup. This year I was fresh for both (The B2B was 8 days earlier and I ran no marathon this year). I am now questioning the value of tapers. It's these sort of experiences that are very powerful in forming/re-inforcing (probably erroneous) beliefs that contradict conclusions based on more reliable evidence (i.e. science).

5 comments:

  1. 1-3%? I call bullsh--. I think the zero key was broken on his keyboard when he typed it.

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  2. No way you can compare '10 Craig Cup to '11 Craig Cup. You were in 3:00-marathon shape in '10. You're not this year. Granted, you weren't rested due to running that 3:00 marathon the week before in '10, but fitness is fitness. You've admitted your training hasn't exactly been consistent for the last few weeks. (I'll also argue that you won't get a stress fracture this year.) Plus, this year, you were so stunned by me being ahead of you at the start of the Craig Cup, it had to throw you off your game looking for your snowshoes, since that's the only other time that's ever happened. I mean, get used to it, but still...

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  3. Wonder what the relationship is between "distance training for" and taper benefits. If you're running lots of long runs for a marathon or ultra, maybe a taper is more beneficial to heal up before the race? Or would the microtears and other things that happen during 10Ks be equivalent as far as recovery?

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  4. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    that was for snom8n

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  5. So, how can we properly test this hypothesis?

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