The tendency is to want to get in one more long ride, one more hard bout of exercise before El Tour, believing that fitness is improved only by hard work. But it isn’t so. Fitness improves during rest. It’s unlikely any long duration, high intensity training done in the last week before the big event will boost your performance.
Now is not the time to further tear down muscle tissue, but to let it recover and adapt to its full performance potential. Rest improves glycogen stores, increases aerobic enzyme levels and activity, boosts blood volume, and allows for muscle and connective tissue repair and adaptation. I recommend slicing total training volume about 50% 7-10 days out.
Do continue to include short bursts of high intensity training (race pace intensity) followed by long recoveries to maintain muscle recruitment patterns, fire those fast twitch muscle fibers, and keep the legs snappy. And just a reminder, with the decreased workload, you need fewer calories.
Which ever ride you decide to do on Sunday – the GABA 75 miler or the Syncardia 55 miler – keep in mind – taper smart for a PR performance in El Tour.