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Tapering for Kona

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

As we get down to what is normally considered taper time for Kona, lots have been asking for my take on an article published yesterday by former World Ironman champ, Pete Jacobs.

At we don’t believe in calling it a taper, rather ‘race preparation’ so we don’t get lost in the thinking that we need to taper the workload down to near nothing.

In his piece on the subject Pete nails the most common mistake in the last week of the traditional taper: Too many athletes are running too much into the race and are doing it too fast. His advice about backing off on the run in the weeks leading up to race day is in my opinion spot on. I am of similar mind that once you have locked up your last long run on the need to wind it down.

This is because we keep our aerobic function topped up on the bike and with the swim. The bike allows us to monitor our power effort and the lack of stress impact makes cycling the most efficient method to use as a training tool to adjust intensities during this most important week.

We at also cut back the number of swim workouts in a normal taper. Swimming is power intensive and if you are a poor swimmer – a swim set that is too strong for you close to a race can have a negative affect on not just your swim, but also your bike and run.

Where would I disagree with Pete is that we do not advise swimming in the race course within 3 days before the race.

This is not just for Kona, nor am I criticising the water there. I advise this to all for every race.

Over a long career I’ve seen too many athletes do a great preparation only to turn up race morning with a ‘mysterious illness’. It’s often put down to food poisoning, when in fact they have picked up a little bug in the open water. 48 hours later they can be totally fine, but the race is over.

For those nodding their heads thinking ‘well yes, maybe in Rio, but not possible in Kona’. I can assure it’s often the ‘cleanest’ waters that will bring you undone. To spend a huge amount of money to prepare and travel to a race only to see it brought undone by swimming in the beautiful lake is just not a risk I want our charges to take.

Plenty of time for looking at the marine life after the race when one is actively recovering. You’re not going to be feeling that fresh anyway.

Apart from that, think Pete’s advice is sound to go with.

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