With race day approaching in just 11 days, it's officially taper time for my upcoming Ironman Wisconsin triathlon on Sunday, September 7. What exactly is a taper, you might ask.
According to ironman.com, a taper is a "period of time in which you reduce your training load before a peak race. By reducing your training load for a period of time, you allow yourself to rest before your race. This allows you to store up physical, mental, and emotional energy over a period of a few weeks, allowing you to “unleash” your maximum potential on race day. If you were to skip the taper, you would carry with you, into your peak race, some residual training fatigue, and you would not be able to race your best."
While my taper technically started on August 11, following a peak workout weekend with a 100-mile ride and a 23-mile run, I still had some difficult workouts last week, including 10 x 800 repeats on Tuesday, an Aquathon race on Thursday, and a Brick workout on Saturday (4 hour bike ride, followed by a 1:15 hour run). With all of that now completed, the future looks bright with much rest and relaxation, and very manageable workouts for the remaining days leading up to race day.
While it's certainly a relief to be over the really long/hard workouts, taper time can be a challenge in itself. I find that I start to feel little aches and pains surface, I have trouble sleeping, and interestingly, I feel hungrier with a reduced workout load. My goal over the next week and-a-half will be to eat well, get plenty of sleep, and mentally prepare for the upcoming race. I'm incredibly excited for race day, and I feel more prepared for this year's race than ever.