A very wise coach once offered the following advice on championship meets:
Don’t leave your race in the warm up pool.
When athletes get to their A race/taper event/championship meet, they may go in feeling unsure of their paces in light of the reduced training volume and some (typical) not-so-stellar days during taper. They go and do some pace work during warm up, maybe repeating 50s or 100s until they see a time they like…and then get up on the blocks for their race already fatigued.
It’s tempting to do this all throughout taper. Last week, my legs finally started to repair a bit after a lot of the work I did this spring and summer, and I hit the 5-hour Saturday brick able to push some power numbers that I hadn’t seen on long rides in a long time.
And then I held back. And held back even more on the 2 hour run after, even though I felt like I could have flown.
Because nobody wants to leave their race on MacArthur Boulevard.
Monday: Rest day.
Tuesday: In the morning, 75 minutes of spinning in zone 2 (134W) on the trainer. In the evening, a 3600 meter swim that involved an old favorite set: 200s threshold on 4:00. I hit 2:55-2:59 for the first 10, and then cut it off at 12 total when the last two were 3:03s.
Wednesday: Speedwork on the treadmill: 5 miles including 1600m (7:10)-2x800m (3:36s)-4x400 (1:46s). Then a late flight to Minneapolis to work.
Thursday: 5.41 miles on a hotel treadmill (9:14 pace). Better than potentially getting lost in a city I don’t know at all.
Friday: Rest day. (Yes, again. This is one of many reasons that I dislike taper.)
Saturday: Last big brick before race day – 46 miles (3 hours) of biking, followed by 12.61 miles of running (2 hours, 9:26 pace). The bike portion felt much better than usual, and I was able to average 148W (normalized) without pushing too hard, and the run felt very, very easy. The hardest part was holding back to ensure that I didn’t overdo the effort and compromise my taper.
Sunday: 3800 m (2.4 miles) of swimming in 1:03:14. Not too hard of an effort, and good practice for focusing during the swim come race day.