Right now, approximately 7500 American Birkebeiner skiers are midway through their race week taper. Make no mistake - they are not happy about it.
Tapering never lives up to expectations. The athlete has trained hard for weeks - dreaming all along of what it will be like to rest a little. One would think that it would feel great. The reality is that it never feels good.
Typical taper feelings include heavy legs, deep sluggishness, grouchy demeanor and apprehension about the upcoming race. Not fun.
Your body's rhythms have been completely disrupted. And while you are feeling kind of punky, you don't have any tough workouts to help prove to yourself that you still have fitness for your race. This is why so many people make the mistake of pushing too hard in the days right before their "A" race.
But have faith in the taper! It does work extremely well when done right. And "right" means a different scenario for each athlete. If done wrong, race day will be disappointing.
As a coach, I monitor my athlete's fatigue level, personality, race experience, race goals and overall fitness to prescribe their best-odds taper routine. It is an art with a lot of science to back it up. More on the specifics of how to taper well in a later post.
Right now, I have to get some more rest!