Marathon season isn’t over just yet. If you’re running a late fall race, chances are you’re tapering right about now. Ah, the taper. Runners have such a love/hate relationship with taper time, the reduced mileage week or weeks right before your big day. On the one hand, you’re giving your body a break from training so you can rest up and be fresh and ready to rock on the starting line. On the other hand, it can be hard to know what to do with yourself when you’re not running!
With all that extra time on your hands, many runners amp up the nerves. Some nerves are understandable, but during this time, you may develop something commonly known as the taper crazies. You imagine worst case scenarios, panic about the smallest thing and obsess over the smallest details. Don’t worry, Salties, we’ve got a guide to tell if you have the taper crazies! (As if you needed something else to self-diagnose, right?
1. You’ve done your training runs with music, and now your trusty iPod is dead. Hmm, buy a new one? No, you decide to enlist a group of running buddies to stage themselves at key points along the course. If you just wanted them spectate for you like champs, that may be normal… but you give them each lists of songs they are to perform as you pass by. And that, well, that is a true sign of the taper crazies!
2. Wanting to be your healthiest at the starting line? Completely normal. After all, it is cold and flu season, and you’ve worked so hard towards your goal. Hermetically sealing your house like that scene out of E.T. and requiring all visitors to don a full biohazard suit and sign a waiver that they are not carrying any germs? That is a clear sign of the taper crazies.
3. Getting a little freaked out by taper aches* is totally normal. Not normal? Calling 911, demanding to be rushed to the hospital and then when you’re given the all clear in the ER, demanding a second opinion from a doctor who’s a runner. The only thing wrong with you, dear reader, is the taper crazies.
4. Overanalyzing your training and crunching numbers? That’s understandable, since you have all this extra time on your hands – during which you’d normally be running – to obsess over race calculators and assess your goals. But if you manage to not only convince yourself that you really ARE capable of a 2:30 marathon when you’re in 4 hour shape, but email the race director asking about the elite start, well, then, you’ve definitely got the taper crazies.
5. Checking the race day weather online? Normal. You need to plan your outfit and pack accordingly. However, if you find yourself doing things like developing carpal tunnel from hitting the refresh button repeatedly for all 15 days of the Accuweather forecast or tracking down your local weather reporter’s cell phone number and calling them once an hour, asking “How’s it look NOW?”? then you have the taper crazies, my friend.
*(According to RW, this feeling is actually caused by a combination of the tissues in your muscles repairing themselves and all the water and carbs you’re consuming, so never fear!)
Here’s hoping that this post gave you a good laugh and some perspective as your race days draw near. Good luck to all of our readers racing this weekend!