Oh, the wonderful complex world of tapering. It never fails that every time I train for a big race, as the mileage and hours build, I find myself longing for the taper. If I can just make it to taper time, I will bask in guilt free wonder as I relax and let my body rest and prepare for race day. And then taper time arrives and I feel irritable, lazy and I begin to question every little tingle I feel. I take solace in the fact that pretty much everyone goes through this same mental battle and IT'S COMPLETELY NORMAL!
What can you expect during a taper? Yes. The answer is yes, you can expect that.
There seems to be no wrong or right way to feel as you navigate your taper. What is wrong, however, is to question the benefit and necessity of a taper. Once you've entered the taper phase, the hay is in the barn, so to speak. It's very easy to question your training and your fitness, but you need to trust your body and the hard work you've done. Sit back and enjoy the extra time you have on your hands. If you have a lot of nervous energy, try meditation or visualizing how you'd like your race day to go. Don't decide to paint your house.
Here are things to avoid or watch out for during taper:
Making up for lost runs - You may have lost a long run or two along the way. Regardless of why this may have happened (injury, work, family), trying to squeeze one more long run in before race day is a big mistake. It can only lead to injury or extra fatigued.
Trying something new - An upcoming race can do a number of your nerves and may tempt you to make irrational decisions, like deciding you need a new pair of shoes for the race or trying a new nutrition plan that involves only coffee and cigarettes. Stick with what you know. Trust yourself and follow your plan.
Eating too much - You may have grown accustom to eating a few more calories during your training and it can be hard to stop this when your volume decreases. Be mindful...reduce the overall amount of food you're eating while still sticking to your normal food choices.
Not tapering - this seems like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people think they don't need to taper or decide half way through the taper that it's doing more harm than good.
Run for you lives,