It’s no secret that the taper is one of the most difficult aspects of competitive swimming. Training all year for the big competitions always comes down to this challenge. You may be cutting down on the mileage, but now the speed takes over. While some swimmers look forward to this part of the training program, there are some who absolutely dread it. So, how do you survive the struggle that comes with the uncertainty of the taper?
#1: Taper Journals Help. Many competitive swimmers will keep a taper journal. This is a place where they record their experiences while swimming as fast as they can for small amounts of time. There will be ups and downs in speed and also in the psychological reactions to those speeds. Anxieties often build up during the time and it is easy to get caught up in them. With a taper journal, you can record what it going on in your body and mind and learn from the experience.
#2: Respect the Aches & Pains. It is a good idea to understand that the way you feel during the taper will change from day to day and moment to moment. This can become frustrating, but knowing that the body is constantly changing will keep your sanity in check. There will be muscle tension and occasional issues with your body that did not pop up during the rigors of the regular training schedules. As long as the pains are not excessive and keeping you from swimming, you shouldn’t worry much about them. Using your taper journal will let you see how quickly those sensations disappear. The body will not feel perfect during the taper. It just won’t. So don’t become anxious about the small issues you might experience. Remember that swimming at full speed is a workout in itself, so it is expected that your muscles will respond.
#3: Recognize the Challenges. Tapering is tough. And, as you are working on your speed, you might want to make a few little tweaks to the training that you just completed. It is best to avoid this. You have trained and the odds are good that you trained well. There is no reason to swim an exorbitant amount of miles to make a change to something you notice in your taper. This time in your training program is meant to let your muscles calm down a bit so you can go all out while you race. If you need to see how many miles you have really covered in your training, go ahead and do the math. Once you see how much you have covered in the pool, you will realize that you do not need to swim any more miles.
#4: Trust Your Coach. If this is the first time that you have tapered, then you may not realize that there is a tapering plan in place. It is best that you do not stray from it. If this is not your first time tapering, then you know that there will be moments when you want to stray from the course that your coach has set. No matter what, do what your coach says. Do not convince yourself otherwise. Your coach has a reason for creating the taper at just the right time. If you are doubting the reasoning, it is a perfect time to talk to your coach so you can be reassured that what it going on is the best thing for you right now. You should trust everything that you have completed, because your times in your races will show the hard work that you have completed. If you feel exhausted, it is perfectly ok. Your body will recover. If you feel excessively energized, remember that your body will get back to homeostasis. The extremes will stop and you will be ready.
It is important to remember that the taper is part of every normal training schedule. It is vital that you trust what is happening, despite the way you feel. Your body will be ready to swim as fast as possible so you can win.