You’ve done the hard work, you’ve put in weeks of training and are feeling fitter than ever before in all your training sessions. Your race is around the corner; it’s time to TAPER.
Nailing the perfect taper is a bit of an art – everyone is different and what you do to be at that perfect point – well-rested and still feeling good – depends on your body. Stick to your training program. It was carefully constructed to get you there. But beware of these pitfalls in the final two weeks:
- I rode the course 2 days before the race and felt great!” Err on the side of caution – it is far better to be on the start line slightly under-trained than over-trained. Stick to the program! Fight the urge to test yourself. Keep training, keep going for the swims, rides and runs in your program, just make the sessions short – much shorter than you are capable of now that you are fit.
- It is 4 days to the race and I feel so lousy/flat/tired I don’t think I can start”. Feeling lousy in the taper is completely normal – most people feel worse before they feel better when they cut back on training. This is your body recovering, so remember you only need to feel good on race day, not a week or 3 days or even the day before! Don’t let your anxiety ruin your day before it begins.
- I am so hungry but want to be lean and mean on race day. Listen to your body – if you are hungry, eat more; if you are tired, sleep more; if you are tight and stiff, do something easy to loosen up (swim, easy ride, stretch). Your body is recovering from the hard work, don’t deny it what it needs now.
- I rode the whole course last weekend. Twice. In the rain. Haven’t you done that?!” Don’t listen to the hype – in the taper everyone is excited and will be talking about their training and what they have done. Don’t compare what you have done and how – you’ve done what you could. Trust in your training. Believe in yourself.
- If you really want to go fast, you should use these new shoes. With this new tri-suit. And this great new nutrition. You’ll be about 20mins faster!” Beware the expo experts – nothing new on race day! Ideally you have already tested everything you will use, but the expo and your fellow competitors will bombard you with new stuff which will ‘shave minutes off your time’. If you haven’t tested it, don’t use it. No matter how much free speed it promises!
Good luck. See you on the start line!