The Taper Crazies

11 Jun

So I’m beginning to see what people mean when they say they hate tapering. At first, I couldn’t see a downside to once again embracing 3-mile runs; having time on a work day to do something other than eat, run or work; and being able to replace miles with minutes of sleep. But then I encountered the worst part about the taper:

My brain.

And now I understand: the taper crazies are all in the head. They’ve been there on every run since my 20 miler, cursing my legs when won’t move like they’re supposed to (and following the rabbit trail downward spiral of what that could mean for race day…). They keep me up at night, wondering why in the world did I decide that running 26.2 miles sounded like a good idea? and CRAP, the marathon is less than 2 weeks away. They suggest that my legs won’t be fully recovered by race day. That my brain won’t be fully recovered by race day. Every mile on my training plan that I don’t run is like a stain on my conscience – what if that mile was the difference between succeeding and failing?

Of course I know I’m being ridiculous. I know that it’s better to take things easy and listen to my body, rather than be a plan-following Nazi (so that’s what I’ve been doing despite the taper crazies). But it helps to hear other people say it too:

Listen to your body. Don’t worry about cutting short or skipping a workout if you feel tired or sluggish. The taper is all about recovering from the effects of a long distance training schedule. Remember that it’s not the training done in the taper that will help you on the marathon day. Rather, the gradual buildup of distance over the last few months that will get you across the finish line… Think of the taper period as running to simply keep your legs moving…. The tapering period serves no benefit for increasing fitness for the marathon day; the fitness was acquired in the previous months of training. If you feel tired or sluggish, listen to your body, not your training schedule and skip a workout or two. {source}

Self: Remember this – You are not screwing yourself over by skipping a run when you legitimately feel horrible (or by cutting a run short when it’s 85 degrees outside…a story for tomorrow). It’s good for you to run at a slow recovery pace, even if it is mentally painful, hurts your pride and makes you doubt your ability to run faster.

The taper crazies have been exacerbated by my exhaustion. Not only does my body not want to run physically, my brain doesn’t want to run mentally. Even my stubbornness has taken a few hits this past week and thrown in the towel early and often.

So I’m asking God to let these shorter runs revive me. To freshen my legs and my outlook. Remind me why I love running, even though right now I want to dramatically swear that I’m never running again after this marathon is over.

As for the other aspects of tapering, I’m going to do all of my remaining runs in the morning. Even though I’d rather get back into my morning routine, it’s just too. darn. hot. to run after work anymore.

I’m also going to cut out alcohol, eat fewer sweets, drink at least 64 oz of water per day (not including water during runs), eat more protein (chicken and salmon this week!), and really try to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night.

Have any advice for conquering the taper crazies?

2 Responses to “The Taper Crazies”

  1. rxnickrun June 11, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    After numerous races including 12 marathons I assure you that you are not alone! Sounds like your doing the right things in your last paragraph. Take it easy, stay healthy and you’ll do great!

  2. Heidi Nicole June 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    If you don’t actually *think* about the marathon the shorter runs are refreshing and so much less stressful. It really is the thinking part that makes you crazy. But seriously, you’ve done all your distance work spot on, you have got this!

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