Now, there are three types of tapers that you see in use. There is the linear taper, and this is a simple progressive decrease in training volume. Of the three tapers we will look at, this has the highest training load. And then there is the non-progressive or the single step taper. The athlete's training is reduced to just a percentage of normal training volume throughout the taper period and this approach is surprisingly common. In fact, when I was young and coaching way back, I used this approach. Even though now, research suggests it is the least effective taper to use for any level of athlete. So we've come a bit further along in our knowledge from when I was coaching. The exponential taper is a taper that declines in proportion to the volume the athlete is already doing and this is fairly easy to calculate. So let's just take a look at how you might think about this. Let's assume you want to decrease the training volume of 20K a day that the athlete might be running at, at a rate of 30% a day. So on day one, the athlete will do 20K, and we calculate it this way. The athlete goes 20K and you subtract 6K and you get the 6K by multiplying 20 times 0.3. That's the 30% of what they're already doing and this ends up being 14K. Now on day two, you start with the 14K and you subtract 4.2K. And you calculate that by taking the 14K and multiply that by 0.3, which is the 30%. And so, the next day, on Day 2, they will do 9.8K. And then on Day 3 you do the same thing. You start with the 9.8K and you subtract 2.94 and you get that by taking the 9.8, take 30% of that, and that equals 6.86. And you do this all the way through the tapering period. Now the performance gains from an effective taper are usually only in the range of 0.5 to 6%, so don't expect a lot. Research on swimmers suggests the average performance gain due to a taper is around 2.2%. This doesn't seem like a lot but the small gain is sufficient for an athlete to set a PR and can be the difference between winning a medal and fourth place, so it is small but it is significant. It's also important to remain realistic about how the taper can affect performance. Now, I want to point out that the exponential taper can have a slow or it can have a fast decay. A training load is higher in the slow decay taper. In the fast exponential taper, we used 30% decay rate and a slow decay taper rate might be, say, 20%. The fast decay exponential taper appears to be the best strategy where volume is reduced quickly while maintaining the frequency and intensity at a fairly high rate. So how long should a taper last? Well, taper duration depends on the training age of the athlete and also how quickly detraining effects occur in that athlete. And these are both very individualistic for each athlete, or athlete specific. Previous training intensity and volume also appears to influence the optimum taper duration as well. So again, you've got a lot of trial and error to play around with here. Reasearch reports a range of effective tapering periods and they vary quite a bit. There's a 4 to 14 days for cyclists and triathletes. There's a 6 to 7 day for middle to long distance athletes. These are the length of time that these athletes need to minimize their fatigue effects and maximize their fitness effects. There's 10 days for strength and power athletes. And there's 10 to 35 days for swimmers and that's pretty huge, really. This wide range makes selecting the time to allow for a taper really difficult. And two weeks is probably the longest an athlete can taper. But it points out how important it is that you know your athlete and how they respond to the tapering strategy that you use. Now at this point in detraining after the time frames that have been listed here, there will be a detraining effect. Athletes who reduce their quantity of high intensity training before the taper require a shorter taper because detraining begins at a faster rate. So the trial and error approach, as I said, will help you decide the optimum taper duration for the athlete, but you can take some guesswork out of it by having the athlete complete a training log. The training log helps identify a pattern in performance based on the taper length and type. Experimenting with different tapers is the only way to determine the optimum taper duration for each athlete.