I have been so looking forward to this period of my marathon training which is known as the taper. This is the point where you have trained all you can train and you now give your body time to rest and recover for the big day. Lower mileage and fewer days of running per week are all a part of the taper. I thought it would be so blissful to not run more than 14 miles at one time for a whole three weeks. I dreamed of the free time I would have and how I could get caught up on some much needed rest and chores around the house. I might not be sore all the time and my kids might not be so upset with me because I would be around more. I envisioned fields of daisies in which I could frolic in slow motion while dramatic music played in the background (ok, probably not realistic but that was how it felt/wanted it to be).
Alas, I have fallen into a trap that several runners have told me is normal. I am tired of running. I just don't want to do it anymore. I don't want to put on my running shoes. I don't want to strap on a fuel belt. I just want to be done. In context, I was plagued with a particularly bad migraine the first weekend of my taper and had to skip a 12 mile and 5 mile run. I beat myself up about it for a couple of days and tried to figure out a way to still squeeze them in to my training plan but there just wasn't a way. Then my husband decided to teach our kids a lesson in sharing and shared his cold with me and so this week I had to skip a 7 mile and 5 mile run. Admittedly, the cold has me feeling run down and tired, but I am pretty sure, even without it, I wouldn't feel like running. I was getting to this point several weeks ago but I just didn't realize it would linger, and even get worse, during the taper. I am just ready for the whole thing to be over so I can go back to being a normal runner and not someone who is obsessing over fueling, shoes, toenails, IT bands, missed runs, weather, getting injured, and all of the myriad of things that worry me about being able to finish a marathon. (My husband supportively, and somewhat cautiously, asked me the other day if I might be the last person to finish and now I can't shake the image of me just barely beating the sweeper truck to the finish line.)
I know not all runners feel this way during the taper but as I mentioned, I have several who have said this is normal. I mentioned the taper to one running friend who visibly shuddered and cringed at the word. He says he hates the taper because he feels like he isn't doing enough and gets so cranky that his family knows to avoid him during a taper. Another friend couldn't hardly do it. She would run ridiculously high miles during her taper period because she wasn't convinced it was a good thing and was desperately afraid she would lose all of her fitness and training.
So to those out there who don't feel this way, I want to kick you in the shins (not really because I know what an injury could do to your psyche this close to the marathon) but I do have to say I am jealous. I wish the taper was as blissful as I thought it would be. If you know any runners, especially those training for a marathon, the taper might be a time where they could use some extra support and encouragement. Remind them of how far they have come. Help distract them with activities to fill the little bit of extra free time they have. Offer to run one of their runs with them. Encourage them to relax and enjoy. (Don't be surprised if they are cranky enough to yell at you for suggesting they relax but know it does make a difference to hear someone say it.) Runners can be very self doubting, so take some time to encourage a runner today (even the one who will be coming in last place, which might just be me).