The Taper Week – Most athletes love/hate this period!
As a lot of our athletes head into their last big races of the year (Hervey Bay 100, Ironman Western Australia), we always get the same trepidation and doubts. Have I done enough, I’m not ready, what if??
The first part of tapering is accepting that you can only do what you’ve done. Trying to squeeze in an extra unplanned session (or two, or three, or four!!) can completly undo all the good work you’ve done in the previous months of training – injury and fatigue are the fastest way to ruin your races. So keep calm, look back at your journey and how far you’ve come from that very first session, the hard work, the early mornings, the sessions that make you question your coach’s sanity!!Keep a lid on the taper period sessions! Don’t go at race effort when you need to be going easy!! The taper is all about recovery and final adaptation to your training load and getting to your race in peak condition! As mentioned before you don’t want to take additional fatigue in the race.
Use the extra time as the volume reduces to to focus on recovery techniques – stretching, rolling, massage. The simple things that will help your body recover from the training stresses you have been applying during your training block.
Hydrate! This is even more important if you are heading into a hot weather race. During the week before increase your intake of fluid, electrolytes and potentially salt (If you know you have a high loss rate). Don’t leave it till the day before and don’t use just water. Having just water can actually flush your body of the key electrolytes and salts that you need to perform on race day.
Don’t “Carb Load”. As your load reduces keep your eating the same. This will be more then enough to replenish your glycogen stores for race day. Don’t go stuffing yourface with every white carb you can lay your hands on………it won’t end well!
Spend some time going through your race plan. Pacing, nutrition, effort, hydration are big keys to your race. Make sure you know these inside out. Write them down, understand them, and make sure you actually do it on race day!!! This will allow you to focus on the process during the race and take your focus off times and speed.
Along with your race plan take some time out in a quiet place to visualise the race and all the scenarios that could play out during your time on the course. Mentally knowing that you have a plan for most situations can do you wonders when the going gets tough or something unplanned happens!
Go into your race smiling and happy. Just being happy can have a huge effect on your mental game come race day! At the end of the day we do these things as a hobby. It’s not life or death, so smile and have a good time even if you are having a day that’s nowhere near what you expected.