Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Exercise Science Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Charles Dumke

Commitee Members

Charles Dumke, Brent Ruby, Collin Fehr


Triathlon, tapering, swimming, cycling, running


University of Montana


The practice of tapering for competition is an integral component of training for triathlon competition. Coaches and athletes alike need to understand where tapering is effective and under what conditions in order to optimize race performance. Triathlon training poses some distinctive challenges for coaches in that it encompasses multiple sub disciplines and likewise presents special challenges in scientific evaluation. This review of both scientific and lay literature sought to evaluate the present state of tapering in academic, coaching, and athletic practices in order to guide present and future recommendations and investigations. Searches for key terms were performed in PubMed, an internet search engine, and the University of Montana catalog database to identify publications on triathlon and related sub disciplines. Other relevant resources were included in the review as they were uncovered during the process. This review approach considered what information was actually reaching end consumers through different channels of communication as well as the role of individual experience. Findings suggest a confluence of evidence for triathlon and subdisciplines that constitute endurance events. The swimming component of triathlon was not evaluated as an independent variable in any of the triathlon-specific studies. Evidence suggests that tapering can effectively enhance race performance when following a period of training overload. Overall evidence consistently favored progressive tapering with training frequency maintained at >= 80 % and no decrease in intensity. Opinions expressed by coaches were varied and sometimes specific to the distance but not necessarily based directly on scientific evidence. Ultimately the needs of the individual athletes can be established through monitoring responses the training cycle and outcomes of tapering practices. To optimize athlete performance coaches should work with the athletes to construct compatible training strategies. Future research questions should address how different training and race variables affect optimal tapering strategies as well as swimming training specific to triathlons.



© Copyright 2019 Bruce Edward Rose