Taper Madness

Hal even refers to it as that. The whole idea of the taper both makes perfect sense and makes no sense at all.

I get that you need to let your body rest up before the big day. I get that if you follow your training plan accordingly, rest at the end helps and you can’t increase your fitness any more by adding a few extra miles to your weeks. I really get it.

But when you’ve been gradually increasing your mileage for 18 weeks, and your long runs move from 12 miles to 21 miles, and you consider a half marathon a nice cutback, your mindset is in a completely different place from a rational, sane persons.

Hal’s schedule told me to run 21 miles last week. RunnningAhead tells me I ran 41. And I legitimately thought I was tapering and had cut back significantly. Not significantly enough apparently.

So this week, after watching two of my friends successfully finish the ING NYC Marathon and after picking their brains while they picked on french fries and sipped what I can only imagine were long-awaited beers, I told myself enough was enough. And I had one week left to taper correctly.

So I skipped the gym on Sunday night. And I skipped a run on Monday morning. I instead did some easy crosstraining on the good ol’ elliptical last night, and this morning I did a run that would make Hal happy–three miles. That’s it. Because that’s what my training schedule told me to do.

But here’s the other thing about the taper that makes it so crazy. You’re supposed to drop your weekly milegage by a boatload, but maintain a healthy diet so you don’t pack on the pounds (and thus have extra weight to carry come race day). So yay, I didn’t go to the gym. But I did indulge in lots of post-race french fries.

Every time I think I’m doing okay with my taper diet (read: trying NOT to eat peanut butter with every meal and fighting the urge to down 43 bowls of cereal a day), something happens. For example, I start a new job and there’s a staff meeting with bagels on day #1. And then its someone’s birthday and there’s ice cream cake to prove it. And the next day it’s apparently someone elses birthday, and the ice cream cake melted so carrot cake is brought in. And I’d bet a lot of money that today its someone elses birthday. And I cannot say no to cake.

On top of that, running feels very far away from me. Even though race day is right around the corner, and I’ve done absolutely nothing but stalk running blogs, books and other ports of information to try to mentally prepare for Saturday, I don’t feel physically prepared. Yesterday’s three-mile run did nothing for me. So this morning I decided to make amends for the cake, even if it might make Hal a little upset. And I decided to remind myself why I’m doing this…because of the joy that comes with a good long run And the overall sense of accomplishment. So last night, I vowed to get back out there today and run a solid 6 miles in along the bridle path and reservoir.

Then I read some more of Hal’s thoughts on the taper madness and discovered that the first time marathoners biggest mistake is not following the taper schedule to a tee the week leading up to the race.

So then I vowed to stick to the prescribed 4.

Then I got out there this morning and it was an amazing fall morning in NYC. And my last meeting with the parks dirt paths before the start line. So I did 6ish anyway.

See what I mean when I say this literally makes you crazy?

But I feel good to have gotten back in touch with that distance. It gave me a wee bit of a boost before I start packing for race day tonight. I may regret it all on Saturday, but for now, I’m quite pleased. From here on out it’s real R&R, a teeny tiny shake out run(s), and very hopefully no more cake.

See you at the finish line Richmond!

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2 Responses to “Taper Madness”


  1. 1 sweatpassionandtears November 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Ahhh cake everywhere, the joys of working! (Maybe the only one? haha)

    Once you get into running, it’s so hard to cut back! It’s a sick addiction. BUT even though you’re tapering, feel free to eat your heart out! Shoot, you’re running 26.2 miles in a week AND you’re tiny, stock up! It’s like active hibernation.

  2. 2 Sass November 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Listen to sweatpassionandtears!!!!!!


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