Taper workouts are exactly what they sound like. An athlete will taper his or her training as the date of competition nears. Workouts become slowly shorter, allowing for longer rest in between sets; all the while maintaining the optimal intensity of each stroke and turn throughout these sets. My body relishes in extra rest at the wall. I comply to all requests: stretching each finger one-by-one, blowing slowed bubbles to return a normal heart rhythm, lying ceiling-ward envisioning the whole thing coming together.
Sounds like a dream, right? Then why is this the absolute hardest part of all of my training?
I can coach my body into its utmost physical shape. I can pace wall-to-wall with increasing ease. I can reprimand a loss for stroke count. BUT...
I simply struggle with getting my brain into its utmost mental shape. I struggle to even think about the other competitors. I almost lose my mind thinking about the impending nerves in Toronto.
How can I get over this? THIS is why I hate taper. Tapering means that I am nearing my final training sessions and cannot go back. I can't wallow in any sort of coulda-woulda-shouldas. I have to have COMPLETE confidence in my mind, body, and spirit; and the belief that they will all work congruently and seamlessly when asked.
All along, my biggest challenge as an athlete has been myself. I began to overcome that the second I decided to start competing again. Sending off a big, "screw you" to all those Negative Nancys that live, hiding, between sutures and cracks in my cerebrum. This has been my hardest job yet: silencing those Nancys and finding newer, Not-So-Negative Nancys to pay attention to.
Newer Nancys, help?!
Perhaps the lesson here is the struggle. I truly feel that if I could overcome my own self, I could truly accomplish anything. For the first time, I recognize both THIS and the urgency to TRY!
Nancys and anything else living beneath the cracks of my brain, see you in Toronto!