Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taper Tantrum!!!

Over the course of  marathon training, there are certain things you grow accustomed to.

Running a lot of weekly miles. Missing events and sleep because of planned runs. The anxiety and nerves of each upcoming long run. Planning your routes and anticipating the crash that will come afterward. Running on dark mornings before the day even starts.

I guess you could say you grow addicted to this schedule because with it comes "The Runners High", the constant feeling of endorphin-driven highs and the persistent fatigue and soreness of effort that follows becomes the norm.

As beneficial as running is to my mental health, racing causes a lot of mixed emotion. I love to race, but racing big races also means tapering, tapering means less running, and less running often means an irritable, crabbier version of me. One that no one really likes all that much and is prone to what we have decided, is a Taper Tantrum.

Proper recovery is critical before any long distance race. I am now in the final weeks before the marathon and my calendar is now filled with ever-shortening, maddeningly easy runs; five miles, four miles, three, two, an entire day or two off of your feet. Now as my body starts recovering and healing from all the work it has been doing, I have extra energy that isn't needed and I am now starting to become restless. Maybe one more 12 mile run? No. No extra running. No more double digits allowed. I feel like my 5 months of hard work building my fitness is slowly draining out of my body. I know this isn't true and I know that physiologically, there are nothing but positive results from a two-week taper prior to running a marathon. However, it feels quite the opposite. Everything I have ever read or been told says the taper is critical and my fitness will improve for race day by allowing myself proper rest. In addition to the "physical suck" of tapering (yes, there is more) I am no longer getting my runners high. I don't have those happy energy filled endorphin's pushing me through the day every day. I'm like an addict, who isn't getting their fix. Irritated, anxious, and restless! I have a surge of anxiety going through me regarding the upcoming 26.2 mile race. The one that I have spent so much time preparing for.

(my thoughts during my taper)
Did I do enough? I could've pushed harder on my last 21 mile run. Maybe I should've squeezed in another speed run or two?  I know I didn't do enough cross training this time. I should've focused more on the nutrition aspect...  What if I wake up and Lyme Disease gets the best of me that day? Lyme disease flaring up would make an already hard race, feel impossible. What if I disappoint my friends and family who have been so supportive, who have sacrificed their time and sleep helping me with my kids or bringing me water when I was out on those long runs and didn't bring enough. What if I finish in a less-than-desirable time and feel like it was all a waste? I'm terrified. I'm nervous. I'm scared of failure.

I'm skeptical about the chaos this taper causes me both physically and mentally.

What I am trying to say is that I hope this helps my husband and kids (and extended family, and co-workers, and cashiers, and Starbucks employees, and the random person at the gas station that I freaked out on...) to better understand the emotional wreck I have been, and I promise, IT WILL GO AWAY after the marathon. Then will come the post marathon blues... but we will talk about those more next week (**wink wink**).

I hope this sheds some light on TAPER MADNESS.  Sometimes, insight makes things a bit easier to understand.  Of course, your experience may differ greatly, but I’ll bet it doesn't.

"I'm like an addict, who isn't getting their fix. 
Irritated, anxious, and restless!"

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