By now most athletes who are racing at the Busselton 70.3 will be a day or two into their taper. Some might have been at it for slightly longer, but a vast majority probably started yesterday or today.
Taper can be a funny time, with a lot of mixed emotions. On one had there is joy because training gets easier, suddenly you don't have to cram quite as much exercise into every day and you get the chance to get more sleep etc. Winning.
The downside to a taper is that you are tapering for a reason. The fact that you are tapering means that race day is not far off and for lots of people that means the nerves kick into over drive as the race suddenly starts looking very real.
Nerves in a taper are a perfectly normal part of taper week and aren't a thing to be concerned about if they are kept under control and aren't allowed to derail race preparation. Nerves can be good in that they can give a bit of adrenaline and they can help focus the mind to make sure you have dotted all the eyes and crossed all the tees.
Where nerves are counter productive is where they are allowed to plant a seed of doubt in the mind that leads a person to second guess their planned taper and instead start to improvise. It is a classic issue faced by many taper triathletes, the urge to make the taper up as they go along. Sometimes the seed of doubt makes them feel they are losing fitness and so they go out for sessions that they shouldn't, or train harder than they should. Sometimes the seed of doubt makes them things they are over fatigued and so they skip planned sessions leading to a feeling of lethargy and heavy legs.
In fact I think one of the biggest challenges faced by most tapering athletes is simply following the plan. They have these nerves, combined with extra time and energy and so they end up getting lost in their own heads, which can lead to some irrational thoughts and some illogical conclusions. Thoughts such as 'I'm sick, I'm tired, I'm not tired enough, I am not working enough, I'm working too much etc'. It can be a challenge to calm these thoughts and keep working to the plan.
Yep, physically this may be one of the easiest weeks that most athletes have had in their preparation, but mentally it can be one of the toughest ones. The task seems simple on paper, lighter training, stick with the plan, get to race day, however, athletes can be artists of self sabotage sometimes. This week, like any other, is time to stick to the straight and narrow. Follow the plan.