|October 25, 2010||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
Hot flashes, restlessness, unexplained irritability and random aches and pains — signs of early menopause? The flu? Some crazy disease? Nope — I’ve just got a bad case of the Taper Tantrums.
Also known as taper madness, this common condition hits marathon runners all over the country several weeks before race day. Though not fatal, potential risks of the madness include: emotional angst, mental anxiety, physical stress, and (of course) driving your loved ones absolutely crazy.
I’ll be honest — before heading into my taper, making it to that rest period was all I could think about. My body was tired and training was beginning to wear on me. I figured I’d welcome tapering with open arms. But this past week, the taper has overstayed it’s welcome. I’ve suddenly been hit with a bad case of the taper tantrums, and it’s not letting up. I have hot flashes at work. I feel feverish even though I don’t have a temperature. My legs are restless and yet yesterday, they felt sluggish and heavy on my 10-mile run. Worst of all, I’ve developed more aches and pains in the past few days than I’ve experienced during my entire time training. Everything hurts, especially my knees!
Logically, I know this is a good sign (well, maybe not the knee pain but I’m optimistically hoping that’s nothing serious). It’s pretty common for your body to go a little crazy when you cut back on mileage. In fact, the achy muscles and tired legs can actually be signs that your body is healing; slowly repairing itself from weeks of abuse. And I know I’m not the only runner out there dealing with these issues during the week(s) leading up to the marathon. But as always, the emotional/irrational side of my brain is often louder than the logical one, leaving me feeling stressed, anxious, and out of shape.
Obviously if I keep this up, I’m going to end up psyching myself out before I even get to that starting line. So during this final week, I’m making a pact with myself: instead of focusing on every little ache, my mysterious fever-like symptoms, and my fear of packing on extra pounds before I get to the starting line because, somehow, even though I’ve cut back on my mileage my appetite is still roaring, I am going to focus on the simple, practical things I can do to make sure I’m feeling rested for Sunday. I’ve talked about my race-week strategy before, but for the next 6 days I plan to:
1.) Drink a lot of water
My favorite water bottle is going to be by my side at all times. And I’ll just have to think of all those extra trips to the bathroom as opportunities for much-needed stretch breaks.
2.) Eat a lot of carbs, particularly in the form of this:
Gnocchi w/ pumpkin sauce, spinach, tomatoes, and freshly grated parm
Carbo-loading at it’s finest
3.) And avoid eating too many sweets.
As much as I try to convince myself otherwise, candy corn + PB is not good running fuel
4.) Spend a lot of quality time icing
This week, I’m bringing back the ice massage. I was plagued by shin splints back in my cross country days and often used ice that had been frozen into a Dixie cup to massage them after runs. Though a little painful, this method is pretty effective and really easy. Just fill a little paper cup up with water and stick it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, peel down the top of the cup and rub it around the sore area, applying a little bit of pressure to gently “massage” it with the ice.
I’ve currently got an entire arsenal of these things in my freezer, and am going to use them to ice my aching knees and shins as much as possible. I’ll also be using a lot of icy hot and spending time laying on a tennis ball. Ahhh…the many joys of marathon training.
5.) Get a lot of sleep
What kind of person lets their dog sleep on their furniture??
I’m not always so great at sticking to a regular bedtime, but this week my goal is to be more vigilant about it than usual. I am aiming to get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night.
These things may not make my taper tantrums disappear, but at least they give me something productive to focus on for the next few days. My hope is that when I get to the starting line on Sunday morning, I’ll know that I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!
On a final note, I’m also putting together my marathon playlist and I’m in need of your suggestions. What are your favorite running/pump up songs? I need something to motivate me through those final miles!