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Tapering For The Indoor Rowing Race

Thoughts On Tapering For Race Day

In this post, I discuss my approach to preparing for the big race the week that precedes the competitive event. I hope the below is useful for your competitive indoor rowing journey!

Overdoing It The Week Leading Up To The Event and Winning The Anxiety Battle

First and most importantly, don’t increase the volume of your training the week of the race if this race is an important one for you. This approach is a big part of tapering for the event that you want to perform well at.

I’ve made this mistake a few times, and I think that it happened because I was anxious about how I was going to perform. As a result, I did more the week before, and it resulted in a flat 2km on the day of the race.

What’s the best way to manage self-talk driven anxiety?

Discipline yourself by keeping a daily training log. When the tension swirls in your system, you can look back at all of the training that you have done. By doing this, you can see that you have, in fact, done enough to prepare for race day. Ultimately your success on race day will be the result of many different factors, and I have covered this in a previous post. However, the battle that goes on between your ears should be a primary focus as well.

If you have another race in mind after the one coming up or a series of races culminating in your most important race, you might train hard through these events and then taper for a week before your goal race. Additionally, if you are part of a competitive rowing program and you have bigger fish to fry in the spring, this may only be a benchmark and stepping stone to your more critical longer-term goals.

Training Structure For Tapering Week

Given it is your competitive period, the basic plan is to continue with intensity but bring the volume down a notch or two. As you near your major event, the amount of training will step down each week. However, you still need to work hard on the shorter or anaerobic threshold piece but not do as many as you did in your regular weekly training. For example, on Tuesday before a major race, I would do 2 x 10 minutes at AT. This volume of work contrasts with the 3 or 4 pieces that you would typically do during your preparatory period. The same goes for Wednesday. 3 x 2 minutes is sufficient to tune up your engine rather than the 6-8 you might do during an average training week.

Below I present the approach that I might use when I taper for an indoor rowing race. This plan is a general guide to give you a sense of the energy systems that you should be training during your taper week. I recommend scaling to your training program and asking help from a coach to see how this might look for you.

Basic Plan

Monday: UT2 10km to 15km. + 20 seconds relative to 2k split. rate 16-20 spm**
Tuesday: AT 2 x 10 minutes (ten minutes rest between pieces) + 10 mins warm up/10 mins cool down + stretching.
Wednesday: 20 mins row + 3 x 2 minutes at race pace (rest or light paddle 4 minutes between pieces) + 10 min cool down row.
Thursday: 8-10km swing row (+ 20 seconds relative to 2k split) rate 16-20 spm**
Friday: 30 minutes light row with 5-6 20 stroke bursts with 4 minutes of rowing in between.
Saturday: Race Day

**Another approach that occurs to me would be to cross train on these days by swimming, running or cycling. For swimming and cycling multiply training time by x 1.5 because they are non-weight bearing activities.

Additional Preparation

Stretching and/or Yoga should accompany the above. I also recommend meditation and visualization techniques to help with pre-race anxiety. Also, make sure you have a pre-race routine planned out. You can download my pre-race template here.


I hope that this has provided a look into my process. I can’t emphasize enough to not overdo it the week before your primary race. If you haven’t done the work in the 3-6 months leading up to the race, it’s too late. If you have done the work, relax and trust your process!

As always if you would like a free consult, you can contact me at, and I will be glad to help you out. I wish you the best this indoor season!

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