I've always struggled with tapering. As a runner, a triathlete and a mountain biker - the taper just drives me nuts. I get so used to working hard and testing the limits of my tolerance to the training. Going to bed tired and then not being sure how I will respond once I start the next workout - I always love that. It's as much mental as physical at times, knowing when to push through and when to take a short break. And then comes the taper. Suddenly, it's time to recover and freshen the legs from all the hard work. Like most endurance athletes, not getting up to greet the sun is strange. I should be out running or something, not sleeping in. And after work, there should be another few hours on the bike - knocking out the intervals to make me faster.
It's a common trap for endurance athletes. Instead of trusting the process and the rejuvenation that the taper provides, too many athletes sabotage it though maintaining volume or too much intensity. Some intensity is needed to keep the edge, but too much drains the energy needed for the target race. Finding the balance and being satisfied with some "laziness" is the hard part of the taper. The work has been done - recognize it and focus the energy on the race.
With my goal race of the season coming up, I'm in that grey area of taperness. Wanting to keep pushing to keep building my hard won fitness - but also knowing that I need the recovery to race at my best. I'm not going to lose anything during the time of tapering, in fact I can do nothing but gain the freshness that I need. It's going to be a long day on the bike. I need the fatigue from the prior months worth of work to clear so I can perform to my goals and my potential. It will happen - I just need to behave and not let the lack of activity stress me out. There is enough other stuffto worry about and prepare!