Thinking Out Loud: The Taper Crazies

Let the taper crazies commence.

tapering-stress

Today I will be linking up with Thinking Out Loud. I am going to talk a little about my thoughts (mostly anxieties) heading into my first marathon. Those of you who have run marathons, feel free to chime in and tell me that this is normal (or not). In fact… I think everyone should just conclude that I am going nuts.

  1. So… What happens after mile 20? I have run two 20-milers and they were HARD. I felt like I could have kept running, but the run was 45 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace. I’ve been warned that a marathon is a 20-mile warm up for the worst 10K of your life… but I didn’t feel 10K racing worthy after my 20-miler. I felt like eating a ton of bananas and sleeping. Do I hit “the wall” after mile 20? And how do I run through the wall? Does race adrenaline REALLY get you through another 6.2 miles after you have already run 20? Seriously… I feel like at mile 20.1 that I my legs will go into self-destruct mode and I’ll end up walking the last 6 miles.
  1. I had a few great weeks in my training… but not every week was great. Sometimes I cut runs short because I felt over-trained or that an injury could happen if I pushed stuff. I don’t feel like I was completely consistent in my training. Should I have pushed a little harder? Will those missed miles come back to haunt me? Ok… now I am just sounding crazy.
  1. The first week of my taper calls for 40 miles. THAT’S A LOT OF MILES! Am I tapering enough? What if I am not properly rested? I don’t feel sore or anything from last week and my peak week was 55 miles, but I still feel like 40 miles is a lot. I’m worried that if I don’t taper enough I am not going to be able to finish this marathon. Next week I hit 28… which is substantially less and makes me feel a little better, but I feel like if I don’t taper enough this week that I am not going to be well rested enough come May 15.
  1. I’ve been pouring over race equivalency charts (yes, I’m that crazy) and based on my half marathon PR and other times that I’ve run during this cycle, they predict that I should have no problem cracking 4:00:00. But I am not so convinced. I know that people are often unprepared for the mental battle that happens towards the end of the race. I’d like to think that my consistent yoga practice will help me remain focused and present, but I am not so sure. I am worried that I’ll crash and burn and potentially not even be able to finish. There are plenty of people with better half marathon PRs than me that have not run a marathon in less than 4:00:00. 26.2 miles is FAR… like farther than I like to drive, no less run! A lot can happen in the course of 26 miles!

These are the crazy worries that I have been having. I know… this is the taper crazies, but I feel like they are real. These are real problems heading into the race and I want to have a good time. I don’t want to hit the wall and end up crawling my way to the finish. I go through moments where I am thinking this will be no problem… that I’ve trained hard and I’m prepared. But then I remember that no one is REALLY all that prepared for their first marathon. This is a really hard race and a really long distance that I should respect and not take for granted. I keep going back and forth… seriously… This is four days into the taper. I am already going nuts!

Thanks Amanda at Running with Spoons for hosting Thinking Out Loud and thanks to all of you for being so encouraging throughout my training ups and downs.

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What are your taper crazies like? Do you find yourself doubting your training as you head into a big race?

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15 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud: The Taper Crazies

  1. Oh man I am sorry you have the taper crazies!!! The only consolation I can give you is that we ALL get the taper crazies!!

    BUT I don’t think those miles will come back to haunt you. What would haunt you is if you pushed through and got injured!

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    • Haha! Yeah, that’s true. Seriously though, I am going nuts. My husband walked in on me last night sitting on the couch in the dark, with only the light of my computer, looking at different race predictor charts. He just stopped and asked me why I was being such a creeper. I can’t help it!!! The taper is making me a crazy creeper!

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  2. Your concern about “after 20” is…well, it’s well-founded and understandable but you’ll be fine. The last 10k is awful and honestly, nothing can prepare you for how it will feel. You may slow down a LOT. But you’ll finish, and I know you’ll finish with a race to be proud of.

    I finally found on my 3rd marathon that I could mentally push through the pain of the last 10k, but I was STILL much slower than I felt I could be mentally. Physically, my body was just like, nope. The last 10k also feels like it drags on FOREVER, and the closer you get to the finish the farther it seems! But I know you’re a physically and mentally strong runner so I know you’ll be GREAT and that wall will hardly affect you. I can’t wait to hear how it all goes! I have great faith in you!!

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    • I don’t know… that wall sounds pretty terrible. I am going to try to stay on top of my calorie intake and hydration. I know that if I get dehydrated, I can kiss my race out the window. But I am usually pretty good stopping at water stations. I didn’t feel sore after my last 20-miler, so I feel like that is a good sign, but I am still concerned about those last 6 miles. It just sounds a little crazy to run another 10K after one of my 20-milers. I could have walked it, for sure. But I don’t know about running…

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  3. If I hadn’t gotten sick, I would be trusting my training, but I’m not running a marathon (and never have, so no real advice for you).

    They call those last 6 miles the marathon miracle, I do know that. And I know it can go well or very, very wrong. I think you’re going to do great with all the training you’ve done — training is just never going to be all good.

    Forget about the time. Of course it’s nice to have a goal to work towards and tell family & friends, but the goal for your first time should be to finish. Uninjured! And those pace calculators? They lie, at least sometimes. They say I’m capable of running much, much faster than I really can — they work for me up to the 10k mark, and then they totally fall apart (or I do; who knows?).

    Trust your training, the good, the bad, the ugly. You’re going to do great!

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    • I hope you feel better for your race. Is it this weekend? I got sick once before a race and I still did well, but not quite as well as I wanted. Mine was a stomach problem, so I had to make a few stops, but race adrenaline did help make me feel a lot better.

      Oh man, you have no idea how scared I am feeling. It’s like the realization that I am doing this hit me like a ton of bricks. The race predictors (based on my 10K time) has the right half marathon time for my PR but I don’t know. I know this is just me being a little too forward thinking, but I want a time that I can honestly say that qualifying for Boston some time in the nearish future (like next 3-4 years) is not completely out of this world. I know that should not be my concern right now, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m hoping that I wake up race day feeling brave, ready and with a clear mind.

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      • The race isn’t for a couple of weeks yet. I once got sick the day of a race — yeah, that one sucked.

        I think it wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t scared!

        From everything you’ve written, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you did BQ in the near future.

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  4. I don’t race so I’ve never gotten to experience the taper crazies, but I hear they happen to everyone so you’re definitely not alone. Whenever I’m really worried about something, I try to remind myself that no matter what happens, I’ll be okay and I’ll find a way to make it work out. Just trust yourself! You trained hard and you’ve got it in you to make it happen 🙂

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    • Hey Amanda! Thanks so much for stopping by! And thanks for the advice. It’s hard sometimes to remind yourself that in the end it will all be ok… and that you should trust yourself and the training. I know come race day, I’ll be ready, but for now, I’m just a bit of a mess. Haha!

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  5. These are perfectly normal feelings. Even experienced marathoners and pro runners who log 100+ mile weeks get these doubts. The emotional roller coaster is part of the journey. Just hang in there! As for the last 10k – in my first marathon it was hard, in my second, it wasn’t. Stay fueled throughout the race and pace yourself wisely and you won’t hit the wall. Do not speed up at the half, no matter how good you feel. WAIT. You still have 13.1 more miles! A smart pacing strategy = no wall 🙂

    And honestly, I know this is easier said than done, but don’t worry about your finish time. It’s your first marathon – just try to enjoy the experience, have fun and soak it in. There are plenty more races in your future to worry about that stuff. No one is going to think less of you if you don’t break 4:00. Do the best you can but remember that your finish time is like the least important part of this day. Remember what really matters, and just take it one mile at a time. Honestly you just don’t need that extra layer of stress with everything else going on. Let it go and see where the day takes you. You’ll do great!!

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    • Since I often have trouble pacing myself at the beginning of a race, I was going to just run with the 4:00:00 pacer. I was thinking that if I still feel good at 20 miles, that I can go a little faster. Is that when you tend to speed up? I know that I should be feeling great at the half way point, since a 2:00:00 half is really not too hard for me. If I’m not feeling good at the half, I was going to drop back a bit and slow down.

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      • Honestly…it really depends. At Grandmas I sped up at like mile 23 after being pretty consistent. I didn’t really make a conscious effort – my body was just ready. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but you just gotta feel it out. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable pushing until after mile 20.Also one more thing – if you find yourself getting tired in the teen miles, don’t freak! This happens a lot, you’ll push through it. Miles 17-20 were like my worst, but I pushed through and then I got a second wind and it was like I was flying! I think running with the 4:00 pacer is a great idea. But if they start too fast let them go – it could tank your race. Make it your goal to pass them later 🙂

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  6. I totally understand. Last fall I ran my first marathon and I was full of worries during the summer. How could I run 26.2 miles at my goal pace when I couldn’t get through 20 miles at a far slower pace??? Somehow it all comes together.

    I avoided the wall altogether and had a great marathon experience. I was careful to eat like it was my job while running so I never bonked. I figured out how much I was burning at the speed that I was running and how much I needed to eat to replace the calories. I stuck to the eating schedule and forced myself to eat even when I didn’t feel like it. This paid off in the end. I was sailing past so many people in the last 10K.

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  7. Taper crazies are totally normal and your worries are normal things a lot of us worry about–even after 2 or 3 marathons!!! I always say the marathon starts at mile 20 so I would advise keeping it easy til then. Don’t start off too fast!

    You’re right in that people have run good half marathons only to not be able to run at their comparative marathon time. That’s me. I have yet to run a full marathon to what I truly think is indicative of my training or level. I’m still trying, lol!

    And it’s definitely a mind game. My current half PR is 1:48 and equivalency charts say I “can” do a 3:45 marathon!! My current PR is 4:44!!! To think I could shave an hour is scary and makes me feel like I can’t do it but you know what, I’m going for the sub 4 on my next one!!

    Good luck to you!! You’ve done the work and now it’s the fun part!! 🙂

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