Monday, July 16, 2012

Taper Time!

The last time I seriously tapered for an athletic event, it involved an evening spent in a hotel bathroom with a bunch of pink razors and women's shaving cream.  
I don't miss this.

It's taper time for the White River 50 mile.  I finalized my plan over the weekend, and will highlight what I'm doing, and why, below. Post-race, I'll evaluate how the plan worked out.

Sleep - Attempting 10 hours a night starting next Sunday. I'll be in bed by 8:30 every night, and wake up when my body wants. There has always been a strong correlation, at least for me, in terms of how much I sleep, and how well I perform.

Less Mileage - Obviously, this is the purpose of the taper. Having held 70-mile weeks, I'll drop down to about 40 miles this week, and then 15 miles next week.  Though, the intensity of the runs will be harder. I've read plenty on the advantages of this (less mileage, but higher intensity), and experienced some of my best swim performances when I lessened mileage and increased the intensity of workouts.

Days Off - I'll take a couple of days off this week. Then take Wednesday, and Thursday off next week.  A 'shake-out' 3 miles on Friday morning, will be nice and easy.  I'm doing a 'shake-out' run, as I've found that I never feel my best after a day off.  Thus the 'shake-out' run.

Heat Acclimatization- White River has temps that could hit the 80's. Spokane was in the 90's all last week, and my Grey Rock 50K hit the 90's. We've also had some humid days as well. I'm thinking it will help running in these temps now, as my body will be somewhat used to it.

Positive Thoughts - I'm probably more convinced of this than anything else.  Don't doubt the training and work that has been put in. Don't make last minute changes to plans, form, eating habits, gear, etc. Trust your plan. Trust yourself.

My first club coach in swimming always told me, 'David, don't screw with stuff two weeks out'.  It was a philosophy I applied in competitive swimming pursuits, and applied to my swimmers when I was a swim coach. I've seen these words be proven true over and over again. I witnessed many swimmers that would get anxious regarding a pending meet, then try to change their swimming form, buy new goggles, change a workout routine,etc. These athletes never did their best.

I was guilty of this doubt my freshmen year of college. I doubted my college coach's tapering plan. I doubted my training throughout the year. I doubted my rest (it's college, I had a roommate), my diet (college), and pretty much anything else I could doubt. I had a horrible meet, but in hindsight, an invaluable learning experience.

I'm convinced one's mind, and confidence, has to be brimming with positive thoughts preceding a major athletic event. My running partner has consistently fed me positive thoughts on our runs, and this has helped tremendously. I'm trusting my training. Trusting my taper. Trusting my ability to adapt to circumstances that present themselves. Time to enjoy the experience.

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