Every runner knows the term. Any friend/family/significant other of a runner knows the term. Taper crazies – that period between the height of training and the actual event where your running person seems to fly completely off the deep end.
I expected to be a bit stressed a week out from my first marathon. It’s totally normal to be nervous when embarking on a new distance – especially one that’s twice the distance your used to, right? But 9 days out and my stress level is off the charts.
So, here are 15 totally reasonable ways to feed the taper crazies from someone with moderate OCD that is embarking on a totally new event with some lofty (probably too lofty) finish goals.
#1: Obsess about things you cannot control. Check the weather at least three times daily to see what is happening in the race city. Dang – it’s going to rain three out of five days this week. What are the chances it will rain on race day? What do I do if it rains? That is the quickest way to ruin my race. Do I wear rain gear? Will I overheat if I do? Will I chafe? Do I carry vaseline packets? WHAT. DO. I. DO?
#2: Test out your race gear. And then decide you don’t like that race gear and test out other gear. And then go buy new gear because you don’t like that gear. And then test out your old gear again because you know you aren’t supposed to wear new gear on race day… Wash, rinse, repeat.
#3: Make a running gear packing list. Then add to that list. Then add to it again. Then decide, hell, you’ll just throw all your gear in the bag so you’re prepared for anything. Is snow possible in Cincinnati in May? Maybe not – but if it is, you’ll be ready for it.
#4: Obsess about your race day playlist. Because there is no room on the playlist for lackluster songs. Every song has to make you want to power through pain. Every song has to inspire you. Every song has to make you want to achieve greatness. Did someone say MMMbop by Hanson? Perfect.
#5: Listen to racing playlist. Over and over and over again to make sure no song doesn’t meet expectations. See number 4 above.
#6: Stress about sleep. You must get 7-8 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. And if someone gets in between you and your pillow, they’re likely to get cut. You cannot be blamed for what you do this week. Taper crazies, right? It’s a legal defense.
#7: Bolt awake at 3 a.m. terrified you forgot to [fill in blank]. Did you confirm your hotel reservations? What, it’s not normal to confirm hotel reservations at 3 a.m.? They have a night desk, right? What if they lost the reservation? And everything’s sold out? And you have to sleep on the sidewalk? Of course, no one thinks logically at 3 a.m….
#8: Sit up at night watching inspirational videos. You’re already up (see #7 above), might as well make the time worth it. There are a lot of videos of people doing great things at marathons. You may as well watch them all… Add in some happy tears for full effect.
#9: Become obsessed with everything you eat. Not only do you not want to gain weight as you cut down the running, you don’t want to get those GI issues you hear horror stories about. So, just to be safe, for the next two weeks you will eat nothing that could possibly cause stomach issues. Hell, why not just eat gels for every meal. Because those never cause your stomach issues…
#10: Study the race course. Over and over again. Five times a day. Turn by turn directions. Video recaps. Know every turn so you can run the tangents. Know every hill so you can pace accordingly. Plan every hydration stop down to ounces. Those marathoners that took a wrong turn and added a mile to their race? That will not be you.
#11: Eat enough Vitamin C to keep a horse from getting a cold. Because no virus is getting you down.
#12: Calculate your race day pacing strategy. Print out pacing bracelet. Then change your pacing strategy and print out new bracelet. Then decide to go back to the original plan after all. Become a regular math genius at calculating projected finish times based on minutes per mile. Change finish time goal thirty times based on current mood/ level of confidence (which, honestly, changes with the wind).
#13: Ice hamstring/knee/achilles/etc. Then soak in epsom salt. Then ice again. Then foam roll. Then stick. Then realize your probably sore because you’re putting your body through various torture devises five times a day.
#14: Declare all runs from now on easy runs. Then end up sprinting because you suddenly become convinced your body will forget how to go faster than a 10 minute mile. Then curse yourself for sprinting because you realize you have just ruined everything you’ve been working towards for over 4 months. With one 100 yard sprint, you’ve ruined your race. Your legs are too tired now and you will nose dive at mile 18, never to recover…
And of course #15 – talk about the marathon so much that everyone you know is probably secretly plotting your death. Tell your significant other your race day “pacing” strategy (because we all know that will still matter to you in mile 24). Then get mad when he doesn’t seem fully engaged. Does he not care about whether I can hold an 8 minute pace for 26 miles? Does this mean nothing to him? Do I mean nothing to him? Is he secretly hoping I fail? Is everyone secretly hoping I fail?
Okay, so this is all a bit exaggerated. No one is that crazy right? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go draw a map of the course from memory…