The half Ironman Mont-Tremblant is coming in less than two weeks. Taper mode just started on June 13th(for me). Taper or tapering is the reduction of training volume in order for your body to recover for your race. Depending on how long and how important your race is, i.e. Training race or racing race, the tapering period will vary.
What they do not tell you about tapering is that it may be threatening for a lot of “type a” personality people such as myself and many other people that enjoy racing. During this time you start doubting yourself and you wonder if you have what it takes to perform for that important race. Is my fitness going away during that time frame?
Nothing is further from the truth. A well placed taper will create wonders and will help you perform. Remember that “Stress + Rest = Success” formula? It is the same when you are tapering. In order for your body to get stronger, it needs to recover and resting is key. You can keep the same frequency of workouts through the week but you need to get the volume down to be effective.
Depending on your plan, the volume may go down 50% up to 90% of your usual training. Your athletic performance is maintained or even increased for up to three weeks. A taper period lasts one to three weeks.
The body responds well to lower volume of training in the short term. During this period, you allow your body to replenish the glycogen storage and the muscles get a chance to get rid of accumulated fatigue. Consider that muscles may take up to 2 weeks to recover fully from a workout. If you keep testing your boundaries prior to the race, it will become just a catered workout for you.
Think about your objective: do you simply want to finish the race? Or do you want to finish the race strong? You need to make a choice. A training race does not require you to taper much but making a personal record in a race or winning it does. You might go crazy mentally during that time frame, don’t ignore its importance it is good for you.
This is where having a coach or a mentor may be beneficial to support your emotional needs for both your training and your recovering times. Friends just take the pressure off and help you disconnect a bit from your race and focus on the pleasant part.
How do you cope with tapering? How do you relate to it? You might find out that you may need to change your attitude towards it in order to fully appreciate its benefits. Just breathe and think about the journey that made you get there. The journey is just as important as the destination.