Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Taper Week Blues

TAPER (\'tā-per\): v/ 1: to become progressively smaller toward one end 2 : to diminish gradually

Yeah, right. Who becomes progressively smaller during a taper week?!?!

I feel like a blob! It's hard to adjust my diet to fit the lack of 2-hour workouts. And I'm finding it easy to skip workouts this week, rationalizing "well, it's supposed to be a restful week, so since it's cold and I don't really want to, I'll skip my swim tonight."


According to Wikipedia, "a review of fifty studies on tapering indicates that optimal levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones, which are significantly depleted by intense endurance training, are achieved during a taper." Pretty much any endurance sport training plan, article, book, or whatnot will talk about the importance of tapering before a race.

Sounds great, right? You get to ease off on the workouts, have more time to do non-training things (work in the garden, go shopping, watch a movie...) So why is it that so many athletes have a hard time with the taper?

Well, folks who have been training for a big endurance event just simply aren't used to not going full-bore. They're used to working out hard, following a routine, and eating enough calories to replace the hundreds or thousands they burn during workouts. Then all the sudden they're supposed to just change up the whole routine...

For a day or two, tapering is a nice break. But after a few days, it sucks. The body starts to feel unused, unloved. And it's darn tough to not feel like a total blob if you're eating "normally" but not working out as much!

Okay, I'm off to the pool. For real this time!


Anonymous said...

Cold? What cold? According to the Weather Channel right now (Thur AM) it's 34 with light rain in Missoula. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to be outside and swimming!

Anyhow, I know you'll have a great race this weekend. We'll be thinking about you. Dad

Robyn said...

Yup - right there with you. During taper weeks, I usually feel phantom pains that seem to move around to various parts of my body. Monday my shoulder hurt. Tuesday my hamstrings were tight. Wednesday my back didn't feel right. By race day, I'm great...but my body tends to freak out during the pre-race taper process!