Monday, October 8, 2012

Taper Madness

"Oh, that's right, no more speed work. And I'm only running 4 miles today. Fun!"

This is it. The hay is in the barn. The work has been done. Taper time is every runner's least favorite time. After months of logging miles, carefully tracking every hard effort and squeezing the most out of every mile, there is no more good to be done.

Prior to my first marathon, I thought the taper would be good. A time to redirect energy, recover mentally, and avoid some of the burn out starting to set in. Couldn't have been further off. There are only two words that sum up the taper, in its entirety:

The body needs the time to recover. The mind needs a break form constantly obsessing over what splits are necessary for the evenings workout. But I still hate it.

October 21 will mark the start of my ninth marathon taper. And I guarantee this - I will have a cold on either Tuesday or Wednesday of the week for the ninth time during my ninth taper. Also, at some point I will stop caring about the race. I'll put this on Wednesday or Thursday of the week before (probably right after I get over my cold). Sometimes it happens two weeks before the race.

One week before the race I will be tempted to see how fast I can run (probably the weekend prior), and last but not least, I will get really hungry. Really, really hungry. My lithe 163 lb frame will weigh in around 165-166 lbs come race day.

Why does the taper cause this? Frankly, spending all year putting the body through its paces sets a base level. The body sets its point of homeostasis at "slightly fatigued". During the taper, the body should not be fatigued. So it is not at the point of homeostasis it had been in for months. The result? Sick. Pissed off. And now I don't even have the option of taking off and getting out of the house - my four-month old baby girl needs some daddy time!

How to cope:

1) Netflix - Enough said. Doctor Who reruns galore. I'm sure some 80's movies will get mixed in there at some point.

2) Cook, a lot - I enjoy cooking ("Enjoy" is different than "am good at"), and with a few extra nights (and energy) to throw into it per week for two weeks. I see risotto in my future.

3) Apologize in advance to my wife - it is a given that I will not appreciate my wife for some stupid reason at one point, even knowing it is coming. Something stupid will be said. So A, I am sorry!

4) Enjoy the hell out of the running I do get to do. Triathlon training did space out my running, so the six days per week of running I normally do in a marathon build up had been three (until recently). I will miss additional cross training. Something about blasting a good hard workout every single day of the week I will miss.

Taper Day 1 - sick. So were my two girls. Luckily, my wife and I are bankers and today is Columbus Day. And Grandma is in town tomorrow, so our little one gets one more day at home. So a rough start, but back at it for 8 miles tomorrow night. Can't wait.

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