Last time I trained for a marathon, I didn’t get to taper. As I’ve mentioned, I got pneumonia after running 18 miles and stopped for six weeks until race day. My legs were REALLY well rested.
This time, when I started researching tapering, I read a lot about the anxiety that athletes can feel during a taper about suddenly not doing enough. (Side note: Although I was a varsity badminton player in high school, it feels weird to call myself an athlete. Usually I just say runner. Other runners out there, thoughts?) I was sure that this wouldn’t happen to me given that after our last 20 miler I thought that I would be happiest if I never ran again.
It turns out I am not immune to this phenomenon. Tapering is harder than long runs. I have to actively remind myself not to push too hard on our shorter training runs. Remember that I don’t actually need to cross-train more this week. That the knee twinge I’m feeling will not doom me during the race. My legs are recovering, doing their thing. And I have to let them, or I WILL suffer during the race.
In addition to the physical symptoms, Alex can attest that I’m a bit grouchier than normal. No more constant runner’s high!
Plus, I’m doing a mini-detox of sweets, alcohol, and caffeine this week because they all wreak havoc on my digestive system and I’d like to avoid that for race day. So less running, coupled with no sweets, plus anxiety about the race means I’m SUPER FUN TO BE AROUND.
Tapering reminds me of corpse pose at the end of a particularly intense yoga class. After moving through so many poses with such focus, it can be hard to just sit still. I suppose the fact that slowing down is so hard for humans is why we are where we are today. Who knows what would have happened if early man was just able to bliss out in corpse pose all the time.
But at the end of the day, I sure would rather be choosing not to run than sidelined with injury or illness. I don’t mean this to sound like one big rant, but just to share the experience if you too find yourself a bit antsy during a taper!