My mom is going for her first century bike ride on Sunday, October 5. You can read more about it on her blog.

She's tapering now, and she's starting to feel nervous and anxious. Feeling self-doubt during the taper is common. Here is what I told her in regards to three of her concerns:

1) Putting on weight: Don't worry about this for two reasons. One, any extra weight you put on will mostly be stored carbohydrate and water. Two, putting on a few pounds of stored carbs and water during the taper is beneficial, as the performance benefit from the extra energy and fluids will more than offset any extra body weight you have to carry for your ride. Just continue to eat healthy.

2) Losing fitness. You will feel tired and achy, as your body is resting. This is easy to interpret as 'I am losing the fitness edge... I should go out and TRAIN!" After a long season of cycling, there's a lot of body damage there. Your body goes into a shutdown state for a while when you taper in order to repair this damage. That's why tapering is good - you feel tired because you body is using energy to build itself up instead of using energy to bike. It takes a good four weeks of COMPLETE inactivity before you lose fitness. So, 2-3 weeks of lowered activity is not going to decrease your fitness. If anything, testing your fitness level during the taper is detrimental to the rest process.

3) I haven't trained enough. If you feel like you won't be fit enough for your race, take a look back at your most solid workouts. Remember that 100 mile weekend and those metric centuries? Those are all safely deposited in your fitness bank, and you have a strong base of fitness because of that training. And, it's not just the physical training. Remember all those hills you never thought you'd crest? You did get up them, and your brain is more courageous because of that.


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