How to Plan Your Taper

Great Expectations

Summary: Your harshest critic; your toughest training partner; your arch enemy (at times)...these people all have one thing in common: YOU. The time and energy and money that goes into a proper training cycle for a big event are the "big three" -- the things that conspire to put inordinate pressure on you pre-race. Succumb to their pull and you risk blowing things before you even start.

Advice: Maintain perspective. This is a hobby. You do this sport for fun; you aren't getting paid for it. I am not saying don't try hard, just avoid totally geeking out. After days / weeks / months of doing what you love daily (most likely early, alone and in the dark), you now get to celebrate your passion by competing with hundreds and thousands of other folks just like you. It's not pressure, this is a party!

1. Know that the only person who really cares how you do is you. Your friends and family just want you to be safe and happy. You owe them that.

2. Keep a smile on your face all day; you are blessed to be physically and financially able to compete in this event. There are many others who couldn't even dream of being in your shoes their lives are so hard.

3. Focus externally on the other folks during your week, saying hi to the other athletes and thanking the volunteers and local establishments who make your event possible. It will keep the good karma flowing and keep you in check.

4. The only time that matters is what the clock says at the end of the day. There will be challenges throughout your endurance day; it's what's supposed to happen! Your ability to handle them quickly and effectively will ensure you spend less time on the course and get to the finish line faster.

About Those Workouts

Summary: The entire goal of a taper period for an endurance event can be boiled down to this: getting rested and ready to race. There really isn't any "peaking" or last-minute speed gains to speak of. For most of us, the taper exists to facilitate the absorption of the work we have done and to keep us sane before the event.

Advice: Stop looking for magical workouts; the "work" is officially done. Instead focus on being rested and relaxed; ask yourself daily if you have achieved both, and if not, if your workout will help you towards either goal. If not, then just chill out.

1. Have a schedule in place, but check in with your body daily to see if the workout is the right thing to do.

2. Be extra vigilant. Riding through your town while your brain is off envisioning your race is a very, very bad place to be. Safety is number one.

3. Focus on race set up (especially if you have new gear related to the race) and form/technique. These things are conduits for your fitness. Don't be one of those folks who has a fantastic "engine" ready for race day, but doesn't have the right "wheels" to make the work happen.

4. No one has ever said, "Man, I was just too rested and ready to race today." Strive to be that person.

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