For most endurance racing, when you get within two weeks of your event it ensures that you have started the taper process. The time to rest and recover to be as fresh and ready as possible for the big event.
Most athletes have a love/hate relationship with the taper, as you often feel like you are going through a ringer of contradictions and other stressors. Your body needs and wants rest, but also craves the training you have grown accustomed to. You often start to notice some physical niggles, which makes you worried that you will be injured on race day. You know you need to eat, but reducing your training volume may make you feel more bloated or full than usual, or you may gain unwanted weight. And, you understand the importance of staying off your feet and also preparing your nervous system through relaxation, but you also likely become well aware of the need to tackle all of the dust, phone calls, projects, and other to-do list items that you have been too tired to even care about for several months.
All of this will likely make you feel a little generally unsettled. And, many athletes also face the daily battle of staying the course of training.
For some of us, we have to decide that each session is still important enough to complete from start to finish, as intended. For others, we have to fight the overwhelming urge to panic train.
Some athletes hyper focus on everything they didn’t do. And others have a little too much confidence, deciding to put their feet up and wait for their (inevitable) amazing result.
Staying the course means something in between. It means seeing the entire process through to the finish, but also acknowledging when your body might need just a little extra rest. It is not spending all of your extra time and energy scrolling through social media, getting worried about things you didn’t even know you cared about until RIGHT NOW.
It means trusting in yourself, your plan, and your coach (when applicable). Never blindly, but communicating openly and honestly through the last couple weeks of training.
How do I personally stay the course over the last two weeks (and encourage my athletes to do the same)?
Breathe. When I get wrapped up in spinning or spiraling energy, I slow down and breathe. I am a huge fan. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. 😉
Rest. I not only rest my body, but I rest my heart and mind. For me, this involves more prayer and meditation.
Trust. Follow my plan exactly as written, unless my body truly tells me otherwise. I communicate openly with my coach. And then we adjust and pivot when needed, while staying honest and true to myself.
Nurture. I don’t take advantage of this time of less training and abuse my body through drinking alcohol, taking on big projects, or skimping on sleep. I focus on nourishing foods and work well for me, little to no alcohol, and solid sleep routines.
Find loving support. I stay in contact with people who I trust. I don’t focus inward, but instead also make a point of providing loving support to others. I have practiced not taking on their emotions— if this is a struggle for you then I recommend you are very mindful!
Visualize. I walk myself through the race process, and focus on success. I also consider where there might be struggles, and prepare some mantras to lean on when things get hard. A couple that work for me, “I don’t do this to be comfortable” and “What do I need right now to honor my goals?” And my word of the day is curious.
Have coping strategies for triggers on hand. I bring awareness to ways that I can cope/self soothe when things inevitably trigger feelings and thoughts that do not serve my needs at the moment. I try to minimize my time with people and experiences that I know are not good for me. If I find that social media sites are triggering doubt, fear, and worry then I stay off of them.
I try to not worry about being polished, and instead, I stay passionate. Focusing on trusting that I know what I need to know, and that I will figure out the rest in time.
And for this race, at two weeks out I will move both of my boys to their homes for the college year, and Jamie will likely open his newest project. So… I am going to need all of the tools, mantras, reminders, and support.
Staying the course.