The first time I trained for a long-distance race, I thought I had to follow the training plan to the T, and that included taper time. Even though I wanted to trust the training plan and was afraid to skip a workout or move workouts around (you live and learn, friends!) and diligently clung to the rest of the training plan, taper time seemed counterintuitive. I didn’t hate it, but it freaked me out.
I felt like my level of fitness and endurance that I had worked so hard for over the last few weeks would disappear instantly, even though I remembered from my training theory classes during my P.E. education that this wouldn’t be the case. But still.
What do you mean, I reduce my mileage and only have to run 2 miles today??
I felt that this wasn’t a good idea after I had been logging so many miles (more than I could have ever imagined) the previous weeks and I was afraid that taper week would ruin my momentum.
BUT: Sometimes your feelings can be wrong and I’ve learned first hand (over and over) that this is not the case and that the taper really gets your body ready for the race.
Yes, there are a gazillion different factors that can make or break race day for you, but taper time really is not one of them.
I first realized this when I was forced to take a training break due to a bumped toe. Granted, it wasn’t really a taper, but an interruption of my training routine and I thought if I took a few days off, I’d have to start from scratch. But strangely enough, the first run after a week or so off, I felt surprisingly strong and energetic. And I imagine that is what taper time does for your race readiness. You get some rest in the week leading up to a race, so that your body is ready to perform.
Here’s an article that I had bookmarked a while ago, when I contemplated if tapering was really necessary. I think it explains pretty well why taper is so good.
Honestly, I embrace it now, even look forward to it in every training cycle.
How do you feel about taper time?