In this blog we look to analyse and break down the fundamental scientific principles of peaking. A tapering process for a distance runner can be defined and implemented into a runners program with great effect to ensure they are in the best possible position to achieve their individual goal. By the end of this blog, we hope you have an understanding as how you can peak for your next PB!


Peaking Guidelines & Philosophy

*Please note that below are simply physiological guidelines to help the body to be in a physically enhanced state on the day of the athlete’s goal event. The best peaking process is personally designed around the athlete’s circumstances and should be modified by the coach based on the athlete’s previous experiences.

*Peaking = the outcome of the process of tapering

“A taper removes the cloud of fatigue with reduced volume to let the fitness and performance shine through” Dick Telford

Peaking 1

Credit to “Running: through the looking glass”, Dick Telford 2016


Peaking 2

Training Peaks can deliver a similar output on the Performance Management Chart (PMC) with Fatigue = the acute training stress (pink line), Fitness = the chronic training stress (blue line) and Performance = training stress balance (yellow line). The runner above completed 2 marathons in this period, can you pick where they are?


“Peaking for a race epitomizes the science and art of coaching. The science is the application of principles of physiology; the art is developing that feeling of readiness to perform” Dick Telford


General Guidelines (assuming the athlete has had a strong and consistent training build up and is currently free from injury and illness)

Three Weeks Out

  • Reduce overall training volume (distance) by ~15%
  • Maintain total quality throughout the week
  • i.e. volume reduction is made on non-session days (think reduced long run, reduced easy volume through the week, less warm up/cool downs etc.)

Two Weeks Out

  • Reduce overall training volume by another 15% (i.e. peak training volume has now been reduced by 30%)
  • Maintain total quality throughout the week (important that you don’t increase any quality)
  • The athlete should be completely recovering between sessions now that volume on non-session days has been significantly reduced
  • The sessions are not designed to continue to induce improvements in the power of the aerobic energy system, but simply to maintain that power, and as the fatigue is removed performance is enhanced

Final Week

  • Reduce the predicted weekly volume to ~50% of usual training volume
  • Reduce the volume of the first session of the week (e.g. Tuesday VO2 Max) by 25% and the second session of the week (e.g. Thursday Threshold) by 50%
  • Again, ensure quality is maintained and not increased (which will be tempting for the athlete given they are much fresher than usual)

Final Three Days

  • A combination of complete rest and easy jogging with some strides at goal race-pace to maintain rhythm


We trust you now have a greater understanding as to what the peaking process is and how you can use this knowledge to improve your race day performance. If you wish to know more about this topic, or anything to do with your running training, please get in touch with our expert coaching team who are ready to assist you towards your next running goal! Please email or see our website:




Running Regards,

Team Front Runner