THE HARD WORK IS OVER
We touched on this a little bit in Week 1 of this series, but it’s worth revisiting it now that we’re only days away from game time: Your level of fitness isn’t going to change much in the two weeks you have left, so there’s no use beating yourself up with tough workouts, hoping that alone will give you an edge once it’s time to perform.
Strength, aerobic, and anaerobic adaptation happens over long periods after dedicated and consistent training. The hard work you put into your workouts over the past few months is what matters. Over the next 14 days, it’s less about how hard you can continue to work and more about how well recovered you can be once the test begins.
The problem is that a proper taper can be a complicated, moving target.
There are so many variables to consider when looking to properly taper back on a training program in order to perform at your best. If you continue to do too much, you may not recover enough, but if you do too little, you may lose your edge and not feel as sharp. Finding a balance is tough and it can take trial and error over many years in order to land on the perfect taper schedule that works for you.
With that said, there are some tried-and-true principles to consider as you set yourself up for success over the next few days.
ONE THING TO TRY THIS WEEK
First off, as we discussed in last week’s blog, nutrition is key. It’s important that you continue to fuel your body appropriately and make sure not to go into a caloric deficit over the next few days. It might be tempting to scale back your food intake as you scale back your training volume, but this is a slippery slope that can lead to not eating enough and poor recovery as the result.
Next, scale down the volume but not the intensity, you don’t want to lose your edge. Doing less volume is a good strategy to allow your body to recover, but by keeping intensity appropriate, you’ll keep your body primed for the level of effort you’ll need to exert once it’s time to compete.
Also, make sure you don’t change your routine too much. Our bodies thrive on consistency, so if you suddenly change how frequently you train, the time of day you train, or other pieces of your routine, you may not be setting yourself up for success. The best thing to do may be to continue to follow your usual training schedule, but simply cut down your usual volume of work by 25-50%.
Finally—no surprise here—sleep! Getting proper rest can have a huge impact on your performance, but this is easier said than done as the excitement builds ahead of whatever your physical test may be. Help yourself by establishing some strict guidelines so you can avoid things that add to the anticipation and anxiety leading up to the event, such as no phones or TV right before bedtime.
To summarise: Fuel up, do less while still pushing the pace, don’t drastically alter your routine, and catch some quality Z’s.