There comes a time in a runners journey to their goal race when the hard training is over and the athlete gets to ease up on the miles, sit up and relax and enjoy the time before the hard work gets tested on the race course. This should be a joyous experience as the athlete waits with anticipation for race day.
So why isn’t it a joyous experience for many, surely a runner can handle a week or two of lower miles, less hard work intersperced with extra days off here and there. The taper can can bring out the worst in people and when this happens and the taper tantrums start beware if your a non running family member or significant other.
A taper tantrum can be described as, an episode or series of out of body experiences where the runner is overtaken by fits of nerves, excitement and anticipation that leave the body in a non linear way that is uncontrollable. These episodes are completely normal for a runner in the taper phase of a race preparation and should be ignored by family members and not taken personally.
One of the reasons runners struggle with the taper period is nerves, if a runner doesn’t run it gives them more time to think about the race and what makes them nervous. This can be increased if the runner is attempting a distance for the first time.
Another reason is anticipation, all the hard work is done and you just want to race. Sitting around waiting for the race to arrive is boring. Gives the runner way too much time to time and rethink race planning. Where will I park? Will it be cold on race morning? How long before I need to leave the house or hotel and make it to the start line?
Another reason is usually apparent with inexperienced runners who think they will lose fitness by stopping running. The truth is you won’t so stop worrying.
The fact is the taper is valuable and the runner should limit the taper tantrums to get the value from the taper period. The uncontrollables can’t be controlled, worrying won’t get you a better park or stop it raining. Nerves will happen for most people taking on a big goal, these are natural and should be embraced rather then feared.
My taper phase begins next week and I have decided for this upcoming marathon to go with a 10 day taper. For this marathon I aim to continue training up until Thursday of next week and then relax over the weekend and the last week. I aim to complete two of my normal three key sessions next week being hill repeats and intervals and forgo the long run for obvious reasons.
Tapering for 10 days isn’t big concern, as a runner who takes plenty of rest days I won’t worry me to have a few more. I don’t have to travel to the race as it’s in my home town only a few minutes drive from my home. With all that said it should be a relatively comfortable taper for both myself and my family.
Good luck in your next goal race. Keep the taper tantrums short and few and far between.