(Sigh). . . Tapering again. Shouldn’t I be good at this?! Last year, I tapered five times. I must admit that it is hard to believe that tapering is important or necessary. I mean, I go from running 50 miles a week to
zero. BUT it feels more like you go from superhuman to unremarkable mortal.
I started to think about the idea of tapering. I’ve searched for good definitions of taper. I like the definition used by Blaine Moore in his article, What is a “taper”? He defines it as a decreasing in the time, the training intensity, or the training volume in which you are engaged in the days or weeks leading up to a performance event.
This started me thinking. We do not just taper in sports events. We taper in real life! Think about it, don’t you remember the intensity to which the build-up of your wedding was? I had about a week’s taper before my ceremony. Then, there was my high school graduation. I tapered for about a month before graduation, because my college was chosen, my tests were finished, my grades were pretty much secured. There was also my taper before my babies were born. Hmm. . . These were all events that I longed for and looked forward to. I was tapering and enjoying it and did not even know it.
Then, why is it so hard for the average athlete to taper and not sneak in a last minute long run or speed workout? Your race is chosen. Your workouts are finished. Your good running days and your bad running days are settled. Time to look forward to the graduation. I mean; you started out at one level when week one of twelve or sixteen or eighteen began and NOW look at you!! You have graduated to better times, longer distances, a fitter heart and body. Amazing!! Time to race and move on to the next great (running) thing.
Tim Noakes, MD in his book, The Lore of Running sums up tapering in the following quote:
“You will need certainly three weeks to put the finishing touches to your stamina and reserve energy. When you consider what a vast amount of work you have already gone through, you will admit that a fortnight or so longer is a relatively trifling matter. Endeavor to keep all your spare time fully occupied with reading, writing, anything that will keep you still, anything to divert your mind from harping on the forthcoming event.”