TAPER TIME is probably upon most of you folks that have fall races. If it's not here now, it will be soon.
Tapering for a half marathon or marathon can be a tough thing to deal with, especially if it's your first. You've gotten so used to your training routine that when it changes and your volume decreases, you don't really know what to do with yourself. You may find you start to experience the following symptoms:
You get antsy.
You feel like a sack of hammers.
You're always tired.
You question your training.
Things start to hurt.
You start to get irritated.
Welcome to tapermadness friends. Don't worry, you're not alone.
I find the whole taper thing to be an incredibly ironic catch 22. You slog through your weeks of training, and towards the end of it, you just can't wait for the training to end. Week one of the taper arrives and and for the first few days, you're happy it's here. You're enjoying the decrease in mileage. Week two rolls around and you start to feel tired. All you want to do is sleep, you're dragging your ass and you can't seem to get enough food down your gullet. By the end of week two you're questioning your training and your health. Did I do enough? Did I do too much? Is my throat sore? I've got a sniffle, I'm getting sick....get me the Cold FX, STAT! My knees hurt. Oh my. Week three rolls around and you start to get antsy. Your workouts have been scaled back a lot. Your energy level is starting to climb and you aren't able to go and burn it off because you need to be resting. The excess energy turns into irritation and you start to get cranky. Your loved ones scatter when you enter the room. Even the dog doesn't want to be near you. All you want to do is get out and race.
I'll let you in on a little secret.....everyone around you is also ready for you to just get out and race.
Sometimes I think that tapering can be harder on those we love than it is for us runners. I've been known to drive G more than a little crazy obsessing about every minor detail during the week leading up to the race. I've seen his eyes glaze over when I start to ramble on about some random body part that hurts or what the race day weather looks like. If you've been racing as long as I have, your significant other has probably developed their own coping strategy in dealing with your temporary insanity. I think G has it down to an art. I have gotten better over the years but I still find the last week leading up to the race to be the most difficult for me and probably for him as well.
I'm planning on changing that this time around with these few simple strategies.
Frankie Says.....RELAX: Yes, I completely dated myself with that one. If you don't get the reference, Google it. I know that relaxing during a taper is much easier said than done but look at it as down time to catch up on other things. Like that book you keep trying to read before you go to bed but as soon as you read the first few lines, you're already asleep. Or that movie you've been meaning to watch but as soon as you sprawl out on the couch and get comfy, you can't keep your eyes open. Forced down time can be a good thing and we should learn to embrace it and appreciate it. Without it, your body won't be able to perform at it's best.
Channel the Energy: If you start to feel antsy, channel that energy into doing something productive. Something that you might have been putting off during your training, like cleaning the basement or purging your closet. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment, you'll score bonus points with your significant other. And you'll probably make some room for a few new pairs of shoes. Win / win.
Socialize: It sounds so simple right? I don't know about you but when I'm training, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go out. Other than the socializing I do with my training partners and run group, I don't see my non-training friends that much during race season. Use the extra time to catch up with your friends and family. Go out and do something fun. Or go and do something nice for your significant other to say thank you for their support.
Channel that energy into something productive, try to relax and enjoy the down time and before you know it, race day will be here and you will have survived your taper with your sanity and your relationships intact.
Have you got any other tips for surviving a taper?