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The effects of taper on performance in distance runners.

HOUMARD, JOSEPH A.; SCOTT, BARRY K.; JUSTICE, CHARLES L.; CHENIER, THOMAS C.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 1994
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance: PDF Only

HOUMARD, J. A., B. K. SCOTT, C. L. JUSTICE, and T. C. CHENIER. The effects of taper on performance in distance runners. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 26, No. 5, pp. 624-631, 1994. The purpose of this study was to determine if a 7-d systematic reduction in training volume or "taper" could improve distance running performance. Three groups of eight runners were examined: 1) run taper, 2) cycle taper, and 3) control. Training in the run taper group consisted of high-intensity intervals and an 85% reduction in training volume. The cycle taper group performed an equivalent amount of interval training as the run taper group, but each member exercised on a cycle ergometer. Control subjects continued normal training. A self-paced 5-km time trial served as the index of performance. The run taper group decreased 5-km time by 3% (1036.2 +/- 30.6 to 1006.8 +/- 28.2 s, P < 0.005). A significant decrease (P < 0.01) in submaximal oxygen consumption (6%) and calculated caloric expenditure (7%) at a running speed eliciting 80% of [latin capital V with dot above]O2max was also evident in the run taper group. Five-km performance and running economy were not altered in the cycle taper or control groups. These findings indicate that 7 d of tapered running improved distance running performance and running economy. A taper regimen of equivalent duration cycle training maintained performance in distance runners.

(C)1994The American College of Sports Medicine