|This is what tapering looks like.|
To some taper time is a welcomed period of the year, while others absolutely hate it. In the moment, realizing you get to rest rather than go out and do a track workout can feel great. But as your body feels better, and your energy levels return those of a normal person, many people start to get antsy, and worry that they're missing out on opportunities to get faster just a week before their race.
To those of you that have ants in your pants, let me remind you - you've already done the work. Quick little bursts of race-like intensity in the last week or so of training before your big race are all your body needs to remember the work it's done all year long. Otherwise, let your body rest. Give your joints a break. Give your muscles a break. Give your WILL a break!
Always being on your game is impossible. All it takes to crack both mentally and physically is one really difficult situation when you're body is REALLY under stress. It could be getting caught in a rain storm in the middle of an interval workout 20 miles from home at the end of a long training block, or it could be a brief but strong headwind in the middle of a race. If you're truly rested, it should take a lot more than a headwind when you're red lining it to break your spirits.
Staying focused during taper time means making sure that you're using that extra energy you've got to ensure that you really nail the fewer and shorter workouts that you do have, so that you can be strong, sharp and confident on race day. More than any other time of the year, the end of the season is the time you need to train smarter, and not harder.