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Taperiffic!!! October 5, 2010

Posted by bettyjoan in Running.
Tags: ,

Before I became an endurance athlete, I didn’t know anything about tapering.  I just assumed that all the crazies who did marathons and triathlons just trained hard-core right up until race day.  Much to my (pleasant) surprise, I found out during my first tri season that there IS some rest built into the training schedule, largely in the form of a 2-3 week taper right before the actual event.  During that time, mileage decreases significantly so the body can heal itself and be able to perform optimally during the race itself.

As I neared the end of tri training that first year, I heard some of the more seasoned participants complaining about the taper.  They claimed they grew cranky about ramping down their workouts, and that their bodies hurt more during the rest time than they did during intense training.  They said that their nervous energy turned into anxiety and that all they wanted to do was race, darnit.  Sure enough, I noticed many of my teammates acting differently, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way.

Me, on the other hand?  I loooooved the taper.  I enjoyed the shorter workouts, the bonus time with my family and friends, and the extra energy I had to burn (that I could channel toward my personal and professional life, instead of training).  Sure, I felt like I was hungry all the time, and I had some nerves bouncing around about my first triathlon, but overall I felt great.  I think embracing the taper really helped my preparedness and performance during my races that year.

Fast forward to 2010, when I decided to take things in a different direction and train for the Chicago Marathon.  We ran our 20-miler on September 18, and then the blessed taper began.  I heard the same complaints from multiple marathoners as I did from the triathletes – I hate the taper, the taper makes me crabby, the taper always brings out hidden aches and pains, yadda yadda yadda.  I wondered if I would feel the same way – after all, marathon training seemed to be MUCH harder on me (mentally AND physically) than triathlon training, so maybe I would run into these taper pitfalls that I’d heard about for so long.

Yeah…not so much.

Maybe it’s the cooler weather (finally!), but I have been loving this taper BIG time, even more than usual.  My runs have been amazing, with less pain AND faster pacing than ever before.  My attitude and energy levels are up, up, up.  Of course, I can’t wait to race – and I’m nervous about the whole proposition, having never run a marathon before – but I’m more excited and enthusiastic than anything else.

Who  knows?  Maybe I have a future as a professional taperer.  All I’m really sure of is…




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