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).