Taper Crazies

Friends, hello—I hope you’re having a great week so far!  For those who’ve checked in with me this week, I’m alive!  I never really got settled since coming back to New York City on Sunday night, so I’ve been trying to get Nautica South Beach preparations squared away (oh, and working!), hence my absence from the blog.  But I’m back with a major update:  I’m currently suffering from taper crazies.


Note to self:  Add the rest of my races to this app.

Since my first triathlon of the season takes place in three days (cue cheers and nervous butterflies), I’ve backed off the duration and intensity of workouts this week, a process known as tapering.  A lot of you know about this philosophy, but for those who don’t, tapering simply means storing energy for an upcoming event by reducing physical workload; depending on the athlete and the event, tapering can begin days or weeks before race day.  For example, this Sunday’s triathlon is a short-course event (0.5-mi. open water swim, 19-mi. bike, and 4-mi. run), so my tapering period is relatively short as well.  Good thing, too, because I’m going crazy.  Here’s what my workouts have looked like this week:

Monday – My Full Throttle Endurance (FTE) teammates and I normally kick off the week with speedwork (specifically 5-ish miles slightly below anticipated race pace).  This week, though, we did 20 minutes of tempo work.  That’s it.  Sure, we warmed up and did some dynamic stretching, but it felt so strange shutting things down after 20 minutes; I had so much left in the tank and was so amped and ready to keep going.  But I respected the taper and spent some time stretching before I headed to the sauna for some heat training.

Tuesday – From now until winter, FTE will have organized team rides in Central Park at least once a week.  My teammates have told me these workouts usually contain interval work or hill repeats, but Tuesday’s ride took the form of two steady loops.  In related news, I rode with the “racing team” and didn’t get dropped—woohoo!  We had the park to ourselves, which was really nice. (Surprisingly, not a lot of people bike at 5:30 a.m. when it’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit—strange, right?) When the team ride ended, I did a third lap with a teammate for a total of 18.6 miles.  I usually strength train on Tuesdays, but Andrew said absolutely no lifting this week.  Even though the leg press machine seemed to be calling my name, I respected the taper and stayed away from the weights.  Easier said than done!

Wednesday – At 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning, FTE’s 80 SoBe-bound triathletes loaded bikes into three trailers that are currently en route to Florida.


Photo swiped from the FTE Facebook group.  That’s me in the pink vest!

This was a semi-stressful learning experience for me, which I’ll blog about post-race. (There will definitely be a “TK Things I Learned About Traveling for a Triathlon” post.) Anyway, it took a lot longer than anticipated, so our indoor cycling session got cut to 43 minutes.  Honestly, though, this was probably for the best because I have a really hard time backing off the intensity in the studio; we can see our heart rates constantly, so I try to stay in the orange or “very hard” zone for most of the workout.  Not going to lie:  I also like spending time in the red or “maximum” zone, but I made a deliberate effort to hold myself back yesterday.  Anyway, we always run off the bike, but Andrew said no way.  Again, I was so tempted, but respected the taper.

Thursday – I’m taking today totally off.  Yep, you read that right:  no easy swim/bike/run, no yoga, no nothing.  Hope you’re happy, taper!

In related news, my appetite has been surprisingly OK this week.  Maybe I’m still full from Easter ham and my grandma’s Venetian cookies, but I’m not thinking about food every ten seconds.  Weird.


Ah, I miss this Easter dessert spread.

Also, since workouts have been shorter in duration this week, I’ve been ancy with this newfound free time.  For the past few mornings, I went grocery shopping (why not?), ran some errands, and hung out in the sauna.

Bottom line, I’m fighting a taper battle right now.  At the end of these workouts, my body has felt unchallenged and more than ready to keep going, and my mind has agreed:  Let’s go, let’s push!  And honestly, from a mental standpoint, I feel like I’m totally slacking.  Yes, I’ve finished this week’s sessions feeling strong, but the conclusion of each felt anti-climatic—basically like I didn’t complete a solid workout. (And in the infamous words of my team’s head coach, if you’re not passed out and throwing up after a workout, you didn’t work push hard enough.) On the flip side, I feel very fresh and rested, which is directly related to the taper, so I know it’s working.  And that’s having a positive mental effect for sure:  I know I’m storing up energy, so I’ll be totally locked, loaded, and ready to do work on Sunday.

But I also want to do work right now.  Darn you, taper!

How do you deal with taper crazies?  Do you do anything special during race week?

34 responses to “Taper Crazies

  1. Is that what these are called! I have an event on the same day as you do in Atlanta and I started my first ever taper this week. I have been going off the wall and have been all over the place.

    Good luck in your race. There is another blogger on wordpress that will be in that exact same race!

  2. I remember feeling taper crazies too, but I never knew it had a name! My cross-country team used to have big pasta dinners the night before big meets, and it was great to hang out and eat… a lot!

  3. Good luck on your race! I always find my hunger changing too. Sometimes I’m ravenous even though I’m not all that hungry and other times I don’t even think about (a rare occurrence though!)

    • Thanks, friend! It’s so strange how hunger can change 180 degrees sometimes. I have a feeling my raging appetite will be back after the race. 🙂

  4. Good luck this weekend. I don’t taper for a lot of races (so that I peak appropriatly) but honestly I don’t go too stir crazy because I fully enjoy the rest. Training hard and then taking the rest is probably one of my favorite things. I don’t even know if that makes sense but I’m going to go with it.

    • That makes a lot of sense. My body is definitely enjoying the break, but at the same time, I’m so ready to go! Hopefully it pays off on Sunday. 🙂

  5. It’s good that you’re respecting the taper. You’ll definitely be glad come Sunday. Can’t wait to hear all about it! Be safe traveling!

    • Thanks, Natalie! I’m very excited to spend some quality time on the beach after the race–and hopefully not get sunburned. 😉

  6. yay! I wish I could see you while you’re down here, but I know you’ll be busy BEING A BEAST! 😉 XO

  7. I don’t usually suffer too much from taper crazies (I love rest), but my legs always seem to get extra restless after I rest for a few days. It’s weird! I hope you find a way to work around the crazies. Oh, and thanks for the reminder to add my races into my countdown app. 🙂

  8. I love reading about how intense you are! hahaha. It’s just plain fascinating to me! I definitely don’t have the same competitive and go-after-it nature…I’d be perfectly fine chilling out in the 65% effort range! lol

    • carriestevens

      LOL! The 65 percent effort range is solid! Without a definite race in the near future, I’d probably hang out around the 50 percent effort range. 😉

  9. So proud of you committing to your taper. And so excited for your tri! I know you are going to do fantastic. I didn’t realize there were so many people on the FTE team!

    • carriestevens

      Yes, the team is crazy big! There’s also a Chelsea Piers in Connecticut, so some of those triathletes are making the trip down as well. In total, there are about 120 on the team!

  10. I haven’t really experienced taper crazies yet, but I’m sure when it happens for MCM I am going to want to just EAT non stop – since that seems to be what I do if I’m not working out :X For halfs, I don’t really do anything special. Cut my mileage just slightly a day or two before hand.

    • carriestevens

      It’s definitely been more of a mental battle. I feel like it’s working, though, so I’m riding it out and keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

  11. I am coming to your easter, official. that spread had me drooling. I can’t wait to hear about your race!

  12. Safe travels and have fun!

  13. Taper crazies!!! Ugh! I usually am starving during taper, and then I feel fat because we aren’t doing as much. Fun times!

    You are going to do great and your lovely app reminds me that there are only 100 days (now) to Musselman 70.3! It’s the same day as the NYC Tri.

    • carriestevens

      Thanks, friend! I can’t wait! I didn’t realize Musselman was the same day as NYC–we’ll both be suffering taper crazies then. 😉

  14. I’m totally jealous you get to bike in Central Park until next winter. Congrats on keeping up with the racing team! Harness that extra energy you have right now; it’ll come in handy on race day. Tapers aren’t easy (some would say the hardest part of training) but they’re worth it.

    • carriestevens

      My coach said he finds the taper the hardest part of training because it goes against everything we know. I know you’re right, though–and I hope it pays off!

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