With less activity, athletes run the risk of defeating themselves mentally. A taper period is a crucial part of training that can make or break your upcoming race. Dr. Hannah DePaul reflects on her time swimming at the University of Michigan where she learned a lot about taper.
Two things that resonated with her: “The hay is in the barn and “Control the controllables.” Her coach would preach that all the hard you have put in is done, and now is the time to recover. Let the mind and body prepare for race day. You will not gain any fitness in the last couple of weeks leading up to your big race.
Some things are out of your control, such as who else is racing or what the weather will be like. Do not waste mental energy on those factors. Control what you have the ability to control…your mindset, attitude, and preparation. Focus on your race, trust your training, and good things will come. Having strategies in place ahead of time will help keep you mentally focused. So acknowledge the taper and embrace it!