The last 2-3 week segment of most marathon training programs is called a “taper.” Essentially, all of the long, hard preparation is over, and it’s time to fully rest up and rejuvenate for the big day by gradually reducing the amount of running you actually do. My goal race is just less than two weeks away, and I’m in the second week of my taper.
Yes, during this time I keep running. My pattern of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday will continue right up until the last few days before the race. It sounds kind of funny to say that these 30-mile weeks are “resting,” but, comparatively, they are. The daily rhythm is the same, but the length of the dance is shorter.
Man, is this hard to do.
You work so hard, and then you kind of suddenly stop working so hard. I ran nearly 600 miles in sixteen weeks and only missed three of the 589 miles on my schedule. Still, I wonder if I did enough. Am I ready enough? I ran 12 “easy” miles last Sunday, and, still, I wonder if I’m ready enough. Can I go more than twice that far? Can I run the Hills of San Francisco?
[Note: Pictured above is my brand new “fast shoe.” I won’t be wearing it in the marathon… But maybe on the plane.]
Lots about marathoning is in your head, and the ease of the taper, ironically, is one of the toughest mental challenges. Everybody says this is the right thing to do, but I can’t help but wonder if one more big push wouldn’t make my confidence more firm. Can I ask my body to get in high gear again in two weeks, and will it respond the way I need it to?
But it has been proven over and over that this is the way to go, and it’s also been shown that people that voided the taper paid for it in the end.
So I’m going to continue to rest. It makes me really nervous, but I’m going to rest. When I start the marathon I’ll know that I followed the plan religiously, and when I finish I can evaluate how well the plan worked. It worked well in 2009 (in New York), but in 2010 (Marine Corps Marathon) life got in the way a bit, I rearranged the plan, and I struggled to finish.
Once I get going on July 31, I have a feeling that I will find that the plan has worked just right. A good feeling. 99% sure. With a semblance of doubt. Mostly positive. Cautiously optimistic. Optimistically cautious.
Okay. I’m just a little bit nervous. Par for the course. Let’s go.