Tips for taper week

Three weeks ago, all I wanted to do was get to taper. My workouts were long and intense. I was tired all the time, attempting to live on the proper combination of coffee, naps and steel-cut oatmeal with protein powder. I would have questioned my entire 2012 if only I could keep my eyes open long enough. Please Jesus, my coach has to be giving me a taper week soon.

Taper began last week. Enter an entire week where only one day is there a double workout and that was my Sunday long brick. My daily training was down to an hour. I started to sleep better and feel fresher.

This is my last taper week before the 70.3 (Half Ironman) Pain in the Alleganies at Allegany State Park. And this is when I start to go crazy. I know, I know, insert joke here about how it’s difficult to tell when I’m going crazy because I already am. But in reality, I’m more off-center than crazy, at least until taper week. And taper week brings all kinds of challenges to my mind and body — mostly due to increased anxiety, a gradual increase of energy level with a sharp decrease in exercise. Add to that the fact that I can’t get the Liz Phair song “Favorite” out of my head (a catchy yet inappropriate tune, which, come to think of it, pretty much defines Liz Phair’s style) and I’m bouncing off the walls. (Figuratively, because I’m trying to rest and save my energy which historically does not go well for me.)

So I’ve created the following list of ways my family and friends can help me cope with taper week. If you view my taper with a sense of detached amusement, you might find it entertaining:

1. Bribe me. I never said I couldn’t be bought. And, good news, I’m a pretty cheap date. Feel free to entice me with rewards for showing up at the starting line and doing my best to get to the finish. Examples include giant jars of Nutella, pancakes, Booberry cereal, Fourth Street Cookies or an assortment of Canadian candy. Bribes also do not have to be things but experiences, like letting me pick the movie at the local Regal Cinema or joining me for the great beer float experiment. (Note: This is not an exhaustive list.)

2. Tell me inside jokes. Odds are pretty high (98 percent) that  if you’re my friend (or have spent more than five minutes with me), we have some sort of inside joke. My definition of an inside joke is pretty simple — anything which would require an explanation or scene setting. And it doesn’t have to be triathlon or endurance-sports related. “Remember the time …” is completely acceptable. Also acceptable are most forms of sarcasm, but please leave the biting kind until after the race when we are drinking adult beverages.

3. Understand I will talk about silly things. I will likely discuss the color of my pee and make jokes about Fig Newtons and Carbo Pro. I will worry about the weather forecast and come up with six different equipment possibilities before returning to my original plan. I will talk outloud to no one and suddenly decide I am Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation or begin quoting The West Wing. Just go with it.

4. Counter with positives. This week, I will say, “I am terrified of not making the bike cutoff.” Don’t poo-poo me. At least not to my face. Tell me instead that I’m a strong cyclist. Be prepared for the cynical retort that you must not know many cyclists. But that’s just my fear talking. Remind me of the work I’ve put in. Remind me of past successes.

5. Urge me to do yoga and meditate. Seriously. Tell me to spend a little time with Thomas Merton in a quiet space. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to take care of my soul. When in doubt, break out one my favorite Merton quotes: Others have their way. I have mine.

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