Tapering is cutting back on training in the last week or two before the race. That gives your body time to fully recover from training, strengthen and repair. Then you hit the race in peak form.
In training, you will probably notice cycles that mimic this. There are weeks when you break all your records, run faster, longer, etc. Those are hard training weeks. Those are often followed by a week or two of reduced effort - your body needs a rest and as a result doesn't perform as well. If you listen to your body and give it an easy week then you will come back stronger than ever. That is the part of the training cycle you want to be in when you race.
Taper jitters: Well here you've been building up your training for the race. You've trained long and hard. Now you have to pull back, slow down and take only short, easy runs. Meanwhile your body is raring to go! That is what you want to bring to the starting line. But that taper week is hard because you are at the peak in your training cycle and it takes a lot of willpower to be patient and go through the taper.
Edited by: LISALU910 at: 11/22/2008 (13:03)
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