Now's the time when everyone expects to feel good but often feels terrible and begins to panic and wonder what's happening!!
You know what it's like if you've been working hard before a big family holiday, stressed to the nines, you get away and expect to feel great as soon as all the stress has been left in the office and yet for the first 3 to 7 days you actually feel totally flat and lethargic - not what you'd hoped for obviously!!! In this case the body and mind is simply having chance to finally sit back and relax and recuperate after all the stress you've been subjecting it to. Many people even get sick on holiday in these first few days. This is much the same as what happens when you start to taper down for a big event like Rottnest. It's unnerving though as you thought that you couldn't possibly feel anymore fatigued than you did after all those hard sessions in the pool and more recently open water.
The key to a good taper is to:
- look after yourself - early nights, sitting rather than standing, lying rather than sitting. Keep hydrated and energy levels high with good nutrition.
- reduce volume substantially but still maintain a sense of intensity to keep you 'peppy' and alive rather than flat and sluggish from just a load of slow, easy swimming.
- maintain positivity even if feeling flat - this is a time for healing and recovering - you're going to feel a bit 'off' in the next 10 days - it's only natural. Don't fight it, accept it and use the additional time you have with the lower training volume to focus on your race and visualise a successful result. Do not skip on this - if you had to stop swimming today and couldn't swim another stroke before the event, what would make or break your preparation would be how you mentally prepare for the big day. Take a 1hr walk along Cottesloe Beach and simply visualise yourself completing the swim...use an iPod and listen to your favourite music to pump you up and set a positive tone (I can highly recommend "Not Afraid" by Eminem - it makes me all emotional just recounting how I sang this to myself over and over and over again before my English Channel swim!)
- set out a good plan (both physical and mental) and use this "If-Then" plan as described by my colleague and mentor Dr Greg Whyte to get your head around the task at hand: http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/david-walliams-endurance-swimming-coach-reveals-all-39465
OK, more later on in the week on technique strategies and how to rescue and regain yourself when heavy and sore shoulders eventually hit...
Hope this helps!