Ah, the taper. In many ways, I look forward to it...it means the months of hard training are over, race day is near, and I can relax for a bit. On the other hand, while I may be relaxing physically, tapering is mentally exhausting. I'm fairly sure that, no matter how many miles I've put in during the few months prior, that I will never enter a taper thinking "yup, I've done enough".
So, how to keep the mind off of anal-retentively analyzing every single detail about something you know longer have any control over? Keep it occupied with other matters. Like other races. By the time I toe the line on in the Tongue River canyon at 11:00 AM next Friday for the Bighorn 100, I will have run six other races in the five weeks leading up to that moment.
First was the Quad Rock 50, which was planned as my last really long long run (although I did run a few other kind of long long runs in the three weeks after QR). A week later, the Big Hill 10K trail race. Nine days after that, the Bolder Boulder 10K. Six days after that, the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon. Four days after that, the Dino Hill trail race. And two days after that, coming up tomorrow, the Hayfever 4 miler.
How's that for a taper strategy? Now, to be fair, I didn't really RACE Quad Rock or Deadwood-Mickelson...they were planned as nice, easy (in terms of pace) long runs all along. I put a moderate effort into Bolder Boulder, but didn't get too crazy. Big Hill and Dino Hill I raced a little harder, seeing as they're both part of the Black Hills Trail Running Series and I need all the points I can get for the season standings. Hayfever will likely be a moderate-hard effort....it typically draws a very small crowd (10-20 runners), which means I may have a legitimate shot at winning (one of my two lifetime victories came at Hayfever a few years ago). I will run as hard as I have to and nothing more. If it's clear that someone else is faster than I am, I will not kill myself trying to chase them down.
Quality over quantity? I guess we'll see.