I'd stand on the rock where Moses stood."
The Band "When You Awake"
Tom Osler, running author and former AAU national champion:
I think peaking is one of the most ignored ideas in running. It's not new. Arthur Lydiard http://www.lydiardfoundation.org/training.aspx was the first coach to clearly state what it was and how it worked. This was about 1960. Most runners and coaches continue to ignore him.
(Note: Lydiard believed you cannot train hard and race well at the same time.)
Coach Jack Daniels, Currently the Head Distance Coach at the Center for High Altitude Training at Northern Arizona University:
I learned this lesson when I went to the Rome Olympics and decided to really get in some good training in those final weeks -- what a disaster that was. What you need to do is exactly what you have been doing, but just a little less of it. Definitely nothing faster or in any way more stressful than usual. You are not going to get in any better shape in those final couple weeks; what you have to benefit from is a better frame of mind, not harder training. To not run in the Olympics as well as you ran in the trials is a sign of poor final preparation, and I always try to have my runners look back at what they did leading up to a particularly satisfying performance, and consider that approach again. We are not doing so well in preparation these days and it's hard to say where things need to be changed.
Greg Meyer, US World Record holder 10 miles, last American male to win Boston Marathon, Vice President of Aquinas College:
My personal philosophy is peaking is more between the ears than anything...except swimming where they shave and go crazy!
I believe in resting enough to feel recovered, doing enough short hard work to keep the muscles firing and the feeling of being fast in your legs...
But the main thing I've focused on with the high school kids is their head. I'm building them up the last two weeks. Telling them how well they've worked, how fit they are, how it will all come together on race day ...just go have fun and race. I try to help them build a mental image in their head of them being successful...in small bits, talk about where they'll be at a certain point in the race...how that will feel...how they will respond. If their head is right, and they believe in their training, my guess is they'll run well.
Steve Scott, one of the greatest American milers of all time (136 sub 4 minute miles) and presently Head Track Track and Cross Country Coach at Cal State San Marcos:
Peaking is the hardest thing to get right. Also, if everyone is on the same program, some peak and some don’t depending on how they react to VO2 work. I start our peak at 3 weeks out from our Nationals, I drop one workout, hills, give an extra days rest between workouts, and drop the volume slightly. For example, our pre-peak week at Cal State looks like this:
Mon long run 12-14 miles
Tues LT* workout 6-8 miles of work
Thurs Hills 16-20 x 350
Sat race or LT workout or race simulation (late in season)
Mon long run 10-12 last 2 weeks
Wed LT workout 5-7 miles
Sat race or race simulation
* LT = Lactate Threshold
I hope this helps, the thing to remember is, the lower an athlete’s aerobic base, the shorter the peak. That is why high school coaches keep them training hard to the end.
Emily Ward, former Gloucester Catholic and University of Richmond distance standout:
It seems like everyone has a taper method that works best for them. I tend to do well on a great reduction in volume but a week that "mimics" a heavy training week....meaning a mini tempo, a mini speed session and 4-5 miles each day in between.