Taper Crazy

On Sunday I will run my third marathon. That makes this taper week, the week that makes me crazy.

Since my training plan says I should only log 9-10  miles this week and I’m already up to 8, that must mean I have a little extra time to blog. Extra time has been woefully lacking in the last two months and this blog has been even more neglected than my training plan.

Today I took the time to compare my training plan to the miles I actually logged. This led to head-holding while I bemoan all those missing miles and worry over what that means to my marathon. My plan called for 448 miles in the last 16 weeks. I’ve logged 333.3 miles. How weird is that? I sure hope 3 is a lucky number. Of course, I’m running 2 more miles tomorrow, so I hope 335.3 is also a lucky number.

In my defense (read: excuse alert) my training plan failures were due to the following:

  1. Week 3: snow. It’s hard to long run in Yak Trax. Or, more aptly, 3 miles feels like a long run in snow.
  2. Week 7: stomach flu. It’s hard to run when you’re camped out in the bathroom. It turns out I wasn’t alone in my misery. All but 2 people who attended a Saturday birthday party were camped out in the bathroom the following Monday. It’s a good thing we don’t live in the same house and my husband could use the other bathroom. Enough said.
  3. Week 9: food poisoning. It’s hard to run when your stomach has been violently turned inside out. I MAY NEVER EAT SHRIMP AGAIN. Enough said.
  4. Week 10-11: regular flu. It’s hard to run when you’re hacking, sniffling, aching, and clutching-the-couch-in-misery while moaning about catching a break already.
  5. Week 11: sleep-deprived business trip to the East Coast. It’s hard to run when you’re on airplanes, in meetings and getting up at what feels like 2AM. Actually, I did run through Central Park on my last day and enjoyed every dizzy moment of it.

Still, for all my training plan failures, I had a few successes too.

  1. Week 3: snow. It’s fun work running in the snow, even if you don’t go very far.
  2. Week 9: 20 miler. If you can run 20 miles coming off of food poisoning, you can run a marathon. Right?
  3. Week 11: Central Park run. See above.
  4. Week 12: 22 miler. For the first time I ran 22 miles in training. The marathon is only 4.2 miles more than that. While difficult, this kind of run definitely gives a confidence boost. Plus, running around and through the submerged sections of my favorite long-run trail made it an adventure.
  5. Week 13: 8 mile hill route PR. I have a difficult hill route with a 500 f00t elevation gain between miles 2 and 3. Much of that is 6-7 % grade and every time I run it I feel stronger. Setting a training run PR made me feel like super woman.
  6. Week 14: 12K PR. I ran Bloomsday, a 12K fun run with around 47,000 people, in the fastest time I’ve run it as an adult. 1:09. Back in high school I ran it in 60 minutes but that was a VERY long time ago and MANY pounds lighter. As a bonus, this time I wasn’t the least bit sore and I remember my high school self walking funny the next day.

Besides obsessing over my training log, during taper week I’m:

  • Obsessing over pace and race strategy. I’d like to break 5 hours (I’m a “slower” runner) but wonder if it’s possible considering my training holes. Should I walk strategically? Should I aim for 4:55? Is that too fast? Is that too slow? Do I have enough gels? Do I have time to buy more? Should I cover a pace band in packing tape and wear it? Should I take a chill pill already? (Yes, Yes, No, No, No, Yes, Yes, and Yes.)
  • Eating a lot. I’m ravenous, as if my body is trying to stock up for a famine. I’ve heard this called the taper worm. It’s irritating because I have plenty of fat stores available for famine (or a marathon).
  • Twitchy. Even though I didn’t get in all my planned mileage, running only 9-10 miles in one week feels a lot like not running at all. When you’re used to the regular endorphin rush of running, the taper is essentially a chemical withdrawal. This makes me feel crazy.

So, if you know a runner who acts a little weird the week before a marathon, now you know. She’s probably just taper crazy.

Runners, have you ever felt taper crazy? How did you get through it?

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  • Good luck on your marathon! Every training inevitably has some hiccups! The stomach flu got me during my training as well!! You hit 22 miles though – you’ll be fine! I can’t wait to hear how your pacing goes and I hope you run sub 5:00!

    I definitely was taper crazy before my marathon. I actually sat down and ate an ENTIRE Panera French baguette in. one. sitting. I was NOT going to hit the wall. And hey, I didn’t – so hurray! I might run another marathon just so I can do that again guilt free! 🙂

    • You made me laugh out loud, Kelly. I could totally eat an entire baguette.

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  • jte521

    Good luck on your marathon, Jill!