First, before getting into today’s topic, I wanted to quickly let you know that I had a great race on Saturday at the Patriot Half Ironman! I placed 2nd in my Age Group and I was the 10th Female overall finisher (out of around 250 women). I have lots to talk about in regards to the race, how it went, how I was feeling, etc, but wanted to still be a part of Tri Talk Tuesday. I will have full swim, bike and run recaps (plus photos) real soon! I want to take my time writing the recaps and it’s hard when you have to jump right back to work after a busy (and tiring) race weekend! I wanted to write my recaps yesterday, but did not have the energy (womp womp). I could have used yesterday as an extra day relaxing at home… that’s for sure.
Now onto… the TAPER
I think of the taper as the time period that gives your body proper rest and recovery, to prepare itself for race day. I have learned the hard way, that you don’t want to go to a race feeling over trained. Taper days (or weeks) allow us to stay healthy for race day! If you burn the candle at both ends of the stick, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster.
The funny thing is, I used to hate the taper. Until I started Ironman training. I found it to be a mental battle and hated taking it easy. I felt sluggish and lazy. Now with all of the training that I’m doing, I am starting to enjoy my taper weeks (or as I call them, step back weeks). This is a good topic for me this week, since I had to ‘taper’ week leading up to my Half Ironman on Saturday. I am also ‘taking it easy’ this week, the week after the race, which can be just as difficult as the taper! My tapers are not as relaxing, as say a Marathon taper. I am still swimming, biking and running a lot of hours BUT the intensity is lighter. Mixed in with the lower intensity work, are short bursts of intervals, that get me race ready. My heart rate is kept low during most of my taper workouts, think recovery zone. The week after a race, most of my workouts are at recovery pace and Zone 1 heart rate pace. I even trained the day after my half ironman, but did a very short & easy swim and bike ride.
Here are my five ways to survive the taper (from my own experiences):
- Find things to keep you busy. I enjoy taking our dog for walks, organizing my household, doing all of the things I never have energy for when I’m training hard. I have trouble slowing down, so when I can’t exercise at full intensity, I try to keep very busy.
- Eat even healthier than normal. I always eat a very clean diet, but when I’m tapering I try and eat even healthier. My plan it typically to eat very clean until I have to carb load… then I get to eat all of the starchy carbs that I want (think pancakes and bagels!) Also, eating extra healthy while tapering makes you feel less slugglish!
- Take care of your body. I like to take Epsom Salt baths when I’m tapering, to get some extra Magnesium to my muscles. If I am feeling the slightest bit of muscle soreness in taper week, I will take a salt bath. This typically helps me, big time! I also try not stay on my feet TOO much and wear extra supportive shoes while at work and home that week. Also, getting a light massage can work wonders during taper week!
- Stay positive and trust the taper. Trust that the taper DOES work and don’t push things over the limit. There was a time I was doing crossfit and racing triathlons. I was ignoring my triathlon coach’s advice and continued lifting heavy weights during race week… this is why my quads seized up during a race. It’s all about balance. If you want to lift weights during your taper week, go light!
- Don’t try anything new. I suggest not trying anything new during a taper. This goes for food, exercise, etc. For example, one might think taking a yoga class is a great idea during taper week, however, if you don’t routinely practice yoga, this could throw your body out of alignment and you could even pull a muscle. I would also stick to the foods you know and don’t risk any stomach upset.
Well there you have it! How do you cope with a taper? What does a taper look like for you?