The Terrible Taper

The taper.  The final few weeks of preparation and contemplating the challenge lying ahead.  Some runners seem to love it as a chance to fill their faces with carbs; others are bouncing off the walls, desperate to get to the race. Here’s a few of my tapering observations…

Where has all the time gone: You’ve had this race booked for months. Training plans were meticulously created with mileage building up until race day. Suddenly, you’re mere weeks away and the taper is here. You begin asking yourself, “Have I done enough?”; “I don’t think I got enough long runs in!”, “Why on earth did I skip so many sessions from my training plan?” It’s not the time to play catch-up, though; the work is done and suddenly doing back-to-back runs to “catch-up” is only going to end in disaster.

All sorts of things start hurting: You’ve worked far too hard for anything to scupper your race now. But every run is a potential disaster, and the phantom injuries start to appear. Twinges appear in the knee/ankle/hamstring without warning, but are you imagining it? Is it the paranoia of a potential injury? Why does everyone on the bus/in the lift start stepping dangerously close to your toes?  Why have they organised a BMX night at work? (This actually happened).

Embracing the carb load: Everything contains carbs, right? At least that’s what you tell yourself.  The fourth biscuit from the office cupboard is just taking advantage of a carb-loading opportunity, and no-one can tell you to stop eating because you quite simply need the energy. Best to try not to end up stuffed full of white pasta and a dodgy stomach the day before though, eh?

Giving up the beer: Months and months ago when you booked on that race, you promised yourself to go tea-total for at least the final two months, well maybe one month. As time creeps along, you suddenly realise there is your cousins wedding, the works outing, and at least four Fridays during your dry period, so you decide two weeks will be enough, maybe one week. Roll on the night before and you’re convincing yourself that surely one glass of red wine will be OK? It’s mainly fruit, right?

You’re about to stop boring everyone to death: Everyone will be glad this is over. The missus has heard so much about your current kilometre pace and which socks you’re going to wear that she only has to look at you and starts glazing over. People dive for cover in the office in case you start to talk about your upcoming race. Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon and you can bask in the glory of all the hard work you’ve done. At least for five minutes until you start scouring the internet for the next one!

Originally published on Men’s Running: http://mensrunninguk.co.uk/uncategorized/the-tale-of-the-taper-2/

Alternative Run Types

Most runners are well aware of the different training run types; threshold, intervals, long-slow run and the like, but during training I’ve noticed some alternatives that I, and others, are guilty of….
Friday pub avoidance run

A really sensible one to start with. Work colleagues have been jostling around all afternoon mentioning there might be a sneaky few after work.  You want to and you’re probably going to.  But then in a bizarre twist, miraculously you decline the kind offer and end up going a run.  It doesn’t matter that you’ll be hitting the booze later on anyway – because you’ve earnt it!  Note:  This is a lesser-spotted run usually beaten by “popping in for one” after work, arriving home around 11pm armed with chips and an apologetic look on your face.

This had better sort out the hangover run

Usually undertaken when you failed to complete the “Friday Pub avoidance run”.  It all went wrong and you’re mad with yourself, but these things happen so you drag yourself out of bed, don the trainers and hit the streets like a greased cougar.  That was the plan anyway but you find yourself running at a slight angle with one eye half closed as every last drop of moisture is sweated out of your battered body, but you plough on and by the time you get back and whip up an avocado and poached egg on toast (this can sometimes happen) all seems right with the world and you can crack on with the weekend.

This type of run is also sometimes referred to as “Parkrun”.

I’m injured but I’m going running anyway run

Definitely one to avoid, but with all your buddies out marathon training and hitting intervals like crazy you feel like a school kid in detention with his nose pressed up against the window watching the others play football outside.  You’ve had a niggle that’s recurring, but your  love of all things running means you go out anyway.  Just tentatively you tell yourself, but after a while things seems ok and you crank up the pace and the pain is back…..  We should all remember that its better to wait until you’re fully recovered rather than leap back in too soon and prolong getting back on track.  Easier said than done, but you know it makes sense.

Every one is pissing me off at work run

The boss has been all over your case, and you’ve put in enough hours to have the rest of the month off.  You get home and stomp around trying to find all your running gear which seems to have been strewn around the house.  Finally you’re all tooled up, and get out to pound the streets. No one can stop you now, especially not with “90’s anthems” pumping down your eager ears. You’re guaranteed to get a good pace on this one as you work the stress out of your body.  You’ll come back calm and relaxed and ready for another day of work tomorrow…. I think.

Getting out of the house to avoid the housework run

The wife is pointing out every uncompleted chore in the house.  You’ve had a shelf waiting to go up for months and the washing up is piled high like some slithering sea monster.  Little clumps of running clothes lurk around various corners of the house. But you shrug your shoulders and knowingly glance over to your race training plan sellotaped to the fridge. It’s written down and if you don’t do it, your entire race strategy will fall apart.  

It’s all worth it though, because on race day when you heroically cross the line in 2,754th the missus will be so proud and all of this will be forgotten.  Probably….