The 11 Phases Of Marathon Tapering Hell – From Your Last Long Run To Your Next Race…
With only 10 days until the Dublin Marathon I’m officially losing my mind (again).
I know I said I wasn’t tapering for the race, but due to being a lazy asshole recently, I guess I really am tapering as I can’t be assed running.
I’ll get out for a run tomorrow and break out of this, but for now I’m recounting all of the horrible tapering phases a runner tends to go through, starting with your last 20 miler to the point where you’ve crossed the finish line and are wondering what’s next.
The 11 Phases Of Tapering Hell
- The ‘Yay training’s complete!’ phase – The joy and relief of finishing your last long run. All of the hard training is over, it’s now time to execute the perfect taper and run an excellent race. In theory.
- The ‘I haven’t trained enough for this, have I?’ phase – The longing to do just one last run. “Have I really trained enough for this?” You suddenly feel insignificant when you notice another runner on Twitter has ran 30 miles in 3 hours for their final long run on the same race. You use Google to try to convince yourself that you have by typing in “marathon training longest run 16 miles”. You’ll read a forum post about a runner who only ran 16 miles and developed gangrene in the last 10k before shitting out their right hip in the last mile. You’ll think the same will happen to you and resort to comfort eating to allay your fears.
- The ‘let’s nom everything’ phase – You pretend that you’re carb-loading, but really you’re a hungry little fellow or lady. That’s OK! According to your Run Keeper profile you’ve burned 1,500,000 calories in the last 6 months. Eat and drink up! You deserve it! Just don’t go too wild in this phase otherwise you’ll drink 3 bottles of Pinot Grigio and agree to run from Canada to Puerto Rico with your friend’s dog on your back.
- The ‘hey, it’s great sitting around on my ass for once’ phase – You suddenly notice that you’re really jaded after all of the races. It’s great to just spend a few hours with your 12 cats. This is bliss for….at most 72 hours. Then you become bored. Or your cats maul you. Or both.
- The ‘oh fuck, I’ve put on 12 pounds’ phase – Self-hatred, despair and weeping will follow. You won’t understand how you have let your body slip so badly. If this is your first time training for the marathon, then you’ll assume that you’re too fat to run again. If not, you’ll still be annoyed by your lack of self control.
- The ‘oh fuck, I better lose this 12 pounds’ phase – Otherwise known as the “fuck this fucking taper” phase. One last 20 miler won’t hurt will it? I’ll live off nothing but water, crackers and marshmallow fluff from now until race day and everything will be fine. I’ll shit away all the excess weight and float around the course like a fluffy white cloud!’
- The ‘hey, I’m fucking bored of sitting around on my ass’ phase – The peace and joy that comes with laziness does not last. A week or so before the race, you’ll begin to miss the regimented routine of your training schedule. Life seems empty. You yearn for the the first few weeks in your training program when running was exciting and still a huge part of your life.
- The ‘realisation that I maybe should have rested more’ phase – The inevitable crash back into despair. You question your sanity for entering the race at all. You look for legitimate ways out. “Perhaps if I walk in front of a bus then I’ll be able to escape from my running commitment!”. “What if I pour piping hot chip fat over my balls and my friend Dave runs the marathon for me, in aid of my red raw testicles?’. You’re running out of ideas. If you’ve went out and ran a few more long runs, then you’ll worry that you’ve done too much and that you’ve ruined your preparations. This is a time of great uncertainty and/or ball pain.
- The night before – Pure excitement, fear and adrenaline are coursing through your veins. You can’t wait to get started. Even if you’re terrified about the race, you’ll know that it’ll soon be over and life will return to normal. The main problem now is trying to get some sleep.
- The ‘what the fuck was I worried about?’ phase – You run the race, feel superb for an hour and then you start to feel a little silly for building the event up in your mind. Then it fades into…
- The post marathon blues – When you eat and drink everything and enter all of the races. It’s here that you’ll resolve to train smarter for your next marathon and take it 100% seriously. If you’re a normal runner in 6 months time you’ll be back on Step 1.