If you have ever trained hard for a race, and followed a plan that builds up to a few weeks before the race and then tapers off the training until the big day, you are probably familiar with the taper crazies. It’s that special brand of crazy that comes from pre-race jitters and stress combined with a reduction in the level of exercise that usually helps the athlete deal with that very stress. For my past running races and triathlons, the taper crazies tended to manifest in two ways:
1) Real or imagined aches and pains that might or might not magically clear up by race day. Case in point: the taper crazies I experienced in the weeks leading up to the Santa Barbara International Marathon last fall. (Spoiler alert: I felt great on race day although it did take me a while to recover from some post-race aches and pains.)
2) Obsessive thoughts about the race, the race course, the needed preparation, the logistics etc. You know you’re taper crazy when the first thing you do each morning is check the predicted weather for race day.
This time around though, for full marathon #2 this coming Sunday, the taper crazies have taken on a “fun” new twist:
3) Doubting your training and your ability to execute your race day strategy and meet your race goals. I have trained for 16 weeks for the race, not to mention the two months of base/maintenance training I did after the Santa Barbara International Marathon last November. That means I’ve been working toward this race for SIX MONTHS. A lot of hard work, sweat and hopes have been invested in this one race (with an 8K and a half marathon thrown in along the way).
For my advanced marathon training plan from Run Less, Run Faster, I’ve put in five 20-mile runs, two 18-mile runs, one 17-mile run, three 15-mile runs, and three 13-mile runs. That’s on top of many, many shorter tempo and speed workouts and a lot of biking, swimming and skiing. So why can’t I trust that training and trust the magic of taper, and believe in my ability to have a great race day? Well, on one level I can, but then there’s this taper-crazy space in my head that whispers things like: “Maybe you’ve OVER trained. And heck, if you struggled to maintain race pace for 13.1 miles, how are you ever going to keep it up for 26.2?” Oh yeah, that’s a fun place to be inside my head!
Overall I think I’m doing pretty well taming the crazy talk. But maybe you should ask my husband and he’ll tell you the real scoop on my taper crazies!
Do you experience taper crazies? What do you do to manage them? Have you ever done anything truly crazy in the weeks leading up to a race? I’m always tempted to chop off all my hair right before a race. It just seems like it would feel so good to have short hair when I’m running. Then I remember that one time in 7th grade that I cut my hair short and strangers thought I was boy, and I come back to my senses.
I get pretty nervous in the days leading up to a big race, so I’ve been reviewing these 10 Tips for Dealing with Pre-Race Jitters.