Tapering Sucks

When training for my first maraton, in 2008, I found myself in a love/hate relationship with my training plan.  I loved having some direction in my life — ok, in my running life — but I hated feeling like I had to run.  Running was something I liked, but I liked it on my terms.  My terms often meant 45 minutes of slow running thiking about how wonderful life was.  It didn’t mean running 7 miles because the running plan said run 7 miles.  But run seven miles I did.

And then the 20s.  I remember my first 20 mile run as something to dread.  Would my legs fall off?  Would I shit myself?  Both?  Nether?  Who knew what happened at that magical point where I knew I had run further than I had ever run before.  Surely, it was something to dread.

Then the weekly milage increased.  From 35 to 40.  From 40 to 50.  Good lord.  What a lot of running.

But I knew towards the marathon itself, there would be a taper.  The point where I was baked as a runner, and I just had to stew in my own juices until race day.  It was going to be great.  I would sit around, watch TV, eat chicken parm, play with my kids, balance my checkbook, paint the house.  I would enjoy the awesome shape I was in by relaxing with my fabulous self in fabulous runner land.

Then, the reality set it.  Ten days before the marathon, I was starting to clear my mind.  Clear my mind of any thoughts other than pure panic about the marathon.  I’m a runner.  I know how to deal with stress.  Go run.  Oh no you don’t big guy marathoner.  You’re tapering.  You gotta sit this one out.  Put your feet up.  Watch TV.  Stew in your own juices.  Juices of panic.

On Sunday I will run my 5th marathon.  And I have to say the tapering has gotten not much better.  But, I have to admit, I’m a little calmer.   I had a job earlier in the week, so I was working.  Now I’m working from home, and trying to keep my mind off the race.  My McMillian plan has me running a very easy week.  Easy means panic ensuring.  I ran for 40 minutes today.  With a headlight on.  The headlight was cool.  40 minutes was too short.  Tomorrow is off.  Saturday 20-30 minutes.  Almost not worth putting on shoes.  Oh.  Sunday 26.2.  But who’s counting?

The cutback in milage is designed, of course, to give me a huge store of energy on Sunday.  If energy is created by borderline and consistent panic, I’m going to break the world record.

The training has been good — I had a great 22 mile run, squeezed in an 18 two weeks ago, and ran a good 12 last Sunday.  I have to think about those good runs rather than the crap races I’ve run or the low milage panic.  Running is fun.  Keep telling myself that.

The hard thing to come to terms with is that the worry does no good on race day.  In fact, I think it hurts.  I can’t sleep as well.  I’m stealing cookies from the kids (nothing new there.  I mean they’re my kids, so they’re really my cookies, right?).  But I can’t get away from this stress by running.  So I guess I’m blogging!

Next stop Philly.  At least I’ll be able to get a long run in.


Written by Greg Cohen

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