I am proud to announce that I have begun week 15 of my 18-week training program for the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I have covered roughly 400 miles of road, beach and trails, including My First Ultramarathon in the past three months. In order to maximize the benefits of my training, I have begun what the endurance world refers to as "tapering." Tapering is simply a reduction in training volume so the body can rebuild to peak strength. During this period, muscles have the chance to repair, glycogen energy stores replenish, the body re-hydrates, and joint and tendon inflammation subside.
Experts have debated over the exact number of days needed for a successful taper, but it is certain that the focus shifts from quantity to quality during this three to four-week process. Incorporating speed work, like the Fartlek Method, followed by a light day will help maintain confidence and prevent a common side effect, discussed by Active Expert, Gale Bernhardt in her article, "[The Taper Blues|http://www.active.com/story.cfm?story_id=13135&category=Triathlon&num=0]." The blues can easily discourage an athlete who has become accustomed to high-energy expenditure during training because he or she will have more energy and feel stronger than ever before. It is imperative not to act on these feelings which may sacrifice months of hard work. Also, it is quite common for an athlete to overlook the fact that they are burning fewer calories; therefore they most adjust their nutrition plan accordingly.
Stay positive during this stage of rest, and use your extra time and energy to practice visualization techniques and review race-course and race-day details. Most importantly, remember why you are doing this in the first place and consider how far you have come and how you have grown as a person over the past three months.