Tuesday, May 3, 2016


For most normal folks, if they were suddenly told they had to run to run every single day, they would convulse and fall over. If they were then told that for a specific two week period, they would get to rest, it would sound like the most wonderful two weeks of their life.

Those two weeks are called tapering. For most people who aren't runners, those two weeks sound like Runner Christmas. Don't be mistaken.

Tapering is the worst period of a runner's life.

"But why?!" You exclaim. After working so hard for so long, you finally get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. You finally get to heal. You finally get to reconnect with friends you haven't seen in months. Isn't that wonderful?!

What normal people don't understand is that runners are insane.

The only thing that keeps that insanity in check is running. When we run, all is right with the world. Nothing matters. Yesterday - literally yesterday - I got an alert that someone had stolen my credit card number and made a bunch of purchases. I gave zero shits. I had just finished an awesome speed workout and all of life seemed totally fine. I talked to the fraud guy on the phone while I prepared to roast some cauliflower. He was very nice and the matter was settled in minutes.

When you run, you are immune to stress.

But when you taper, all of your stress and worries come roaring back. You're sitting there, looking through the same list of romantic comedies from the 80's on Netflix, thinking, "I would kill someone to just go for a run right now." But you can't! Because you have a marathon in a couple weekends, and if you run now, you will fall flat on your face on race day.

It's a double whammy for me because I also count calories. Which means that if I'm running less, I'm eating less. It's actually OK to gain a couple pounds before your race so that you have fuel. But even the slightest hint of ballooning around my mid-section causes me to break out in hives. While I'm tapering, my thought process is, "well if I eat absolutely nothing today, I'll be able to have a beer this weekend."

My diet while I'm tapering.

And all of my runner friends are the same. They all go crazy when they have to taper. That period of rest is one of the rare few times when runners actually feel energetic and want to run. But it's the only time when they can't. And that's torture. Imagine you just had the biggest meal of your life and you're so full that food is oozing out your pores. Then someone offers you cake. Ugh. Now imagine you haven't eaten in three days and then you see cake, but it's just out of reach.

Did your heart rate just speed up a little? Yeah.

And while I'm not running, I start thinking about the long list of things I've wanted to accomplish that I haven't. A part of me thinks, "well now you have the time and energy to do all those things." But I don't. I just stare at the ceiling, calculating how far I can run that day and still be considered tapering. Because after I've run, I have an excuse for not doing anything else.

And I don't feel bad about it.

Running is catharsis. We're all riddled with guilt, and stress, and angst, and a whole bunch of other bullshit. Running is a magic pill that just cures everything. It's hard to believe for non-runners, but it totally is. But if you run seriously, you have to race. It's hard to break yourself every single day if there isn't some goal you're shooting for. But if you race, that means you have to taper.

"I went for a run when I was supposed to be tapering."

I could probably make an analogy here using competitive cake eaters.... But all this tapering has fried my brain. In any event, the thing that makes tapering tolerable is knowing that at the end of it, you get to run a race and NUKE your previous record. I mean, hopefully.

Personally, my goal at my next marathon (Run for the Red in the Poconos) is to qualify for Boston next year. So I have an extra incentive to do this tapering thing right. Although I did an intense speed workout yesterday and have been eating nothing but cauliflower and pickles for the past couple days, so I don't know.

Maybe I just suck at everything. But it's ok. I'm going for a run at lunchtime, and I'll feel better after that...

I prefer to create my own shitty memes.