HEY! I have an idea, let’s train hard AF for like, months, and then a few weeks before the BIG race, back off on the training and try not to freak out about the imagined tragedy of losing all fitness and mental preparation by the time race day arrives. LOL.
Welcome to the marathon taper! Any marathon training plan has one. I myself am one week out from running my fourth marathon. The taper is the final weeks before race day where the runner runs less and rests more to be ready to perform at the event. Seems legit. But ask any runner who has done it and they’ll tell you some shit!
I like resting. I love sleeping, now that I’m getting better at it. And when I push my feet into the ground and take a deep breath, I know I’m prepared. BUT, the mind can play many tricks during the final stretch and it’s maddening but hilarious at the same time. This is sometimes known as the Taper Tantrums. This is my fourth episode of the Taper Tantrums, as in, it happens every time. I know I’m not alone here, hopefully you can relate if you’ve run a marathon before. If you plan to run a marathon in the future, don’t say I didn’t warn you hahaha. Here are some of the best tricks the marathon taper has up its sleeve, and which I am currently falling for! I’m a bit dramatic at times, makes me laugh at myself, and it helps me feel better to talk about it comically. Everything is going to be okay!!!!
“I’m out of shape and my body is made of lead.”
Not true, even if it feels that way. Training peaked two weeks ago and there haven’t been many really hard or fast runs lately, which leads to doubting pace capability and tenacity, for me. On another note, I just tired myself out for months, so no shit I’m tired! Thank God my coach reminded me of that! Mentally, my brain is aware that it’s time to slow down a bit, but that sometimes doesn’t make sense as the race approaches. Must keep working just as hard! Wrong. Thankfully, in reality, fitness is NOT lost in the taper weeks. It has been studied and proven, and I (mildly) doubt that that research is a consipiracy theory.
“I don’t remember how to run.”
Running along, thinking, “wtf, how do my feet normally land on the ground? Where do my arms usually swing? I feel like I’ve never done this before. Damn, I’m uncoordinated.” HAHAHA I don’t know where this comes from, but I’m guessing it’s just one of the many elements of the fear of not being ready. I definitely know how to run, I’ve put in over 1100km this year alone. Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot. Sounds manageable.
“I’ve gained weight.”
Probably. Running less, sweating less, eating more, especially carbs, storing water… It might be a pound or two. In my case this is true, but who cares, and it’s not abnormal. If it bothers you, just don’t try on your pants or shorts with the tightest waist band at this time.
“Who am I?”
“Wow, I have pains in every area of my body!”
I remember hearing about these phantom pains while I was training for my first marathon and approaching the taper. Makes sense though. Work your ass off for months, then fear something will go wrong before or during the race. For me, suddenly my almost 20-year-old ankle injury is saying hello a lot more often, and my left knee, which I’ve never injured or had issues with “feels off”. Hahah just STFU, body.
“Maybe I should eat more.”
Carb loading for a marathon generally starts about three DAYS out, not three WEEKS! It is not necessary to eat every carbohydrate in sight as the race approaches. For me, I just need to remember to eat if I’m actually hungry, and to eat a balance of carbs, fats and protein, NOT adopt an all-carb diet (even though that sounds magnificent.)
“I better check the Weather Network hourly for the 14 days before the race.”
Hourly, times 24 hours/day x 14 days = 336 weather checks, and that’s only because the app only shows two weeks into the future. At end of the day, the weather is one of the things on race day that we CAN’T control. Maybe it makes me feel more in control knowing what to expect if the race was suddenly SWITCHED TO TOMORROW, but what will be will be. Let it go, Jamie, and person reading this who is approaching marathon day.
“I’m not ready.”
Hello there, Self-Doubt, you asshole, it’s been a while.
Backing off the training naturally can result in decreased confidence in the ability to perform well, or to even simply survive 42.2km. Add in pressure from the self possibly to hit a specific goal, nervousness and everything else I’ve been telling you about, and it can be hard to believe in yourself/myself! Trust. Your. Training. I’m ready. You’re ready. Oprah was ready in 1994.
The marathon taper affects people in different ways. I’m trying not to let it get to me, and I suggest you do your best not to let it get to you either, because race day is coming and it’s f*ckin go time. If you are dating, married to, best friends with or work with a tapering marathoner, please try to be encouraging and patient. I apologize on behalf of all of us!