Readers’ Roundtable: Do You Experience Phantom Injuries During Taper?

When you've trained long and hard for a marathon, injury can seem catastrophic! img cc via thelatestslub on flickr.
When you’ve trained long and hard for a marathon, injury can seem catastrophic! (img cc via thelatestslub on flickr.)

Lots of us are tapering for our big spring race, myself included.  No, unfortunately it’s not Boston.  It’s New Jersey!  Everyone’s second choice!  (Badabing!)

But seriously, I’m excited for my third marathon on the beautiful Jersey Shore!  My goal is conservative, but that doesn’t mean I’m taking training any less seriously.  I’m approaching my taper with a little more experience under my belt, and if this is like last time, a few aches and pains will likely start creeping up my legs any minute now.

I don’t think it’s any cause for worry…or is it?  I never experience these phantom injuries during a taper for a half marathon, and having only done this a couple of times before, the taper crazies have me wondering: is my sore foot a serious case of PF?  Is my sneeze indicative of a case of SARS?  Does that wonky feeling in my back mean I have sciatica!? Does that click I heard mean my kneecap is going to pop off and roll down the street!?!?

Please tell me this is normal!  Have you experienced “phantom” injuries during a marathon taper–that is, nagging aches and pains that you haven’t felt during your training?  Do you (or would you) take them seriously?

As always, we’ll take your answers in the comments!

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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  1. YES in all caps. I always have “injuries” race week! It’s like I’m extra in tune to my body. And, because I don’t run as much and have spare time, it gives me more time to feel those little aches and pains that are normal life. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  2. I always start waaaaaay overthinking everything during taper. One year I decided I needed to run extra easy for my easy runs during taper and ended up having super sore legs and I bugged but it was just from running way too slow! I think being a psycho during taper just means you worked hard and care a lot about your race. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend/Monday!

  3. I am running Boston next week and so far I’ve been momentarily convinced that I have a stress fracture (just my ugly bunion throbbing, as it does from time to time), that my meniscus is tearing in my left knee (it felt weak when I stood up last night) and that I’m developing pneumonia (maybe I am getting a little chest cold; we will see.) It’s hard not to freak out a little when you’re life has been focused for many months on one event and it is finally in the near future.

    1. I know, right? Every little thing is a disaster waiting to happen! Do you think it’s actually your body just shaking itself out a bit or is it all in our heads?

  4. Phantom stuff during taper utterly normal – especially if you have known “boo boos” (my bunion, cranky hams, allergies) but don’t hesitate to get something new checked out if stressing. If nothing else, hearing “it’s nothing” can be reassuring.

    I put together a post on taper – resources might be of use.

    Hang tough everybody! Amy – see you in Boston next week, my first!

  5. I don’t run any races where I really need to taper, but I too always seem to have a phantom injury pop up the week before a race. Always. It’s uncanny. You know me – I am extremely conservative – so I do take it seriously and I will generally do an aqua run instead of a land run right when it crops up. Usually this takes care of it.

    1. Ooh, good tip on the aqua running! Even if it’s all in my head, maybe a trip to the elliptical is in order to alleviate any fears I have, since I don’t have access to a pool.

  6. This usually happens to me during any “A” race, no matter the distance. I like to think it’s our body’s way of protecting itself from overdoing anything so close to race time. I also find that the last workout before a race usually sucks and feels difficult, which can play some tricks on the mind. Good luck!!!

  7. Unfortunately during this taper I’ve been too focused on my legit hip injury to make up any fake ones. But yes, in the past, I’ve freaked about every. little thing and diagnosed myself with all sorts of ailments. And seeing as my kids ALWAYS get sick when I’m tapering and have a history of sharing it with me right before the race, I add that to my list of items of flip out and obsess about.

  8. During taper I think you are hyper vigilant. You notice every little pain and focus on it.
    Sometimes I think that taper pains are the unwinding of pains we went through as we gained fitness during training. Sort of like passing the same floor on the way down that we passed on the way up.
    “7th floor, blisters, strained quads, pulled hammies and IT band problems” all on sale this week!