Tapering. The time honored tradition wherein an aspiring marathoner, after months of diligent and disciplined training, watches all of their hard work rendered useless by feelings of slothfulness and gluttony. The marathoner gains weight. They definitely get slower. Their body simply forgets how to run anything further than 12 miles. And all sorts of aches and pains flourish in soft tissue areas of the legs that, only a few days ago, was a Statue of David styled physique of chiseled rock.
Or, at least, that’s what we think.
It’s taper time again. My race whitehead is developing nicely. This is a real pus filled one too. Think pyramid shaped, custard filled donut taped to my nose. Can’t wait to pop it. And, if it really is custard, eat the contents.
How to taper properly?
I admit to this being a weak area in my training regimen. The miles go down, begrudgingly, but inevitably the confidence wavers as well. For some reason, if I don’t bang out an 18 miler on the weekend I start to feel like I’m incapable of running 18 miles – even after just a week of taper.
And, of course, the panic over every little leg muscle anomaly starts to play with your psyche. Oh. My. God. What is that??? A lump? Have I developed a nasty, itchy knot on the side of my leg? Holy shit, my race is toast. I’ll never be able to work that out in time. Oh….wait…just a mosquito bite. That should be fine. But, look over here, I’m oozing an orange powder. My leg is rotting from the inside. Shit. No…no…I’m okay. I was eating Cheeto’s and scratched my mosquito bite. That’ll wipe off. Whew.
Being a veteran of 5 previous marathons, I’ve learned to not hyperventilate over every little muscle soreness. It comes with the territory after weeks of tempo runs, limbo runs, and long runs. The taper WILL in fact provide much needed rest and recovery.
If we pray to Garmin (p.b.t.n.), we should Trust in Taper.
To that end, I present to you my Do’s and Don’ts of proper tapering. This is as much for me as for you because, frankly though I appreciated the kind thoughts about my filly’s sudden seizure, I don’t remember receiving any cash gifts in the mail. Apparently, not one of you picked up on, what I thought, was a fairly obvious signal to send me cash or checks in denominations of $20 or more. Honestly, I feel like I need to spell things out for you people sometimes. Thoughts and well wishes are nice but nothing heals like a bath tub filled with your money.
1) R.I.C.E. any real or perceived injuries.
2) Refuse to participate in any household chores. Carrying a laundry basket most certainly puts you at risk of back strain and endangers the PR.
3) Cut back on the miles by 10-30% (depending on the plan) each week.
4) Continue to eat but EAT RIGHT. The cake, rum, sour balls and Vicodin will have to
go. Don’t starve yourself though thinking you’ll gain weight due to fewer miles. This is a good time to bring out your inner Fruit Salad maker. And eat your green veggies.
5) When running, visualize success in your race. Only think positive thoughts.
6) If you feel like being negative, vent your anger towards inanimate objects or your least favorite farm animal. Or go to the zoo and eat peanuts dangerously close – but just out of reach – of the spider monkeys. It’ll make you feel better.
7) Prepare your list of excuses as things may not go your way and you don’t want to look like a doofus standing there with no plausible reason why you walked off the course 8 miles in. Start complaining about a twisted ankle even though it feels great. Throw in a limp or two around friends and family. If you meet your goal, it’ll seem like even more of an accomplishment due to your “twisted ankle”.
8) Say nightly prayers to your mitochondria. Hopefully, they are big and long by now and may simply want to hear whispers of sweet-nothings to prevent from drying up.
1) Run even more miles….slide in an extra 20 miler. You are not Superman. This will not help your race.
2) Less miles will free up extra time to play with your kids or visit family. Resist the urge. This is the time for maximum selfishness. Spend this time double checking your race equipment and hydration plans. Your family is a distraction.
3) Decide to see how fat you can get by embarking on a diet of cheeseburgers. While this would be amusing, I doubt it would help your race. Stick to the fruit and veggies and non-cheese soaked protein.
4) Become completely inactive. There will be time for that after the race seeing as how your legs will be so destroyed you’ll be basically immobile. Do some bike riding and walking.
5) Don’t do household chores you’ve been long neglecting. I find that it’s nice to think about all of the things you have to get done when running. You don’t want to take these thoughts away. They provide something to think about during your run. A steadily growing Honey-Do list is a great source to burn away nervous energy while watching TV.
6) Become addicted to Ecstasy. A marathon in no way resembles a rave and your pacifier and glow stick will not be welcome.
7) Waste time responding to your spam emails about how to enlarge your penis through a magic pill. Based on complete speculation on my part, it doesn’t work. Instead, compose an email to the pharmaceutical companies to see if they can provide a pill that will make your mitochondria bigger, longer, and thicker and pleasure your spouse. Mrs. Nitmos often cites my mitochondria as my sexiest feature.
8) Do not allow a llama into your home. If you have before, you know what I mean.
For those tapering, enjoy! For those not tapering, what’s your problem? Even if you don’t have a race coming up in the next two weeks, you can still say you are tapering. It sounds official and gives you a great excuse to taunt zoo animals. Also, there’s lots of leaves falling from the trees. You want to rake them up? No, you need to taper.
Happy taper to those tapering! And let me be the first to say, my, how big your mitochondria look. Very impressive.
Next up: My Detroit goals. I’m going two pronged with the goals so you don’t want to miss that. I find using the term “pronged” is a clever way to demonstrate that you don’t know how to make up your mind but still want to sound official.