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Taper Tantrums

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.

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(Source)

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

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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:

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Like this delicious dish of gnocchi with pumpkin sauce inspired by this post and based off this recipe (though with a few tweaks).

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Gnocchi w/ pumpkin sauce, spinach, tomatoes, and freshly grated parm

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Carbo-loading at it’s finest

3.) And avoid eating too many sweets.

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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

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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.

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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

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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!

21 Responses to Taper Tantrums

  1. Great tips! I am sure I will be going crazy at the end of december when it’s time to taper!

  2. Love this! And I feel your pain. Though not the knee pain. You’re handling that really well :)

    I wish I could cut back on sweets. Perhaps doing a marathon the weekend of Halloween wasn’t the smartest idea?

    I love anything by Eminem and that ridiculous new G6 song. I don’t run with music, but those are the songs I have in my head lately on runs.

    I am so excited for you! You are going to kick some serious marathon booty this weekend :)
    Jen´s last post ..Tapering makes me crazy

  3. OMG! I ran the Amica Marathon with Becky last weekend and the entire week before I felt hot and feverish and was so afraid I was getting sick….looks like I was experience taper tantrums! Thanks for sharing that info with me, I had no idea and now I know what to expect next time. Good luck with your race, I love your blog!

  4. This was so me two weeks ago. I was a mess (as you know!) and spent every free minute with a bag of frozen peas on my foot. When the day came, I was scared, but ready. I am so excited for your race! Can’t wait to cheer you on!

    As for music, I didn’t use any, but I did make a playlist just in case. It had quite a mix – Eminem, Kanye, Pink, Journey, Taylor Swift, Michael Buble – you name it, I put it on there!
    Becky´s last post ..Grocery Day

  5. I find it so iteresting all the things runners go through. Very educational. I can only imagine the angst of wanting to get out there after you’ve been doing nothing but training for so long!! Hang in there. Can’t wait to hear all about the race. I know you’ll do so well!

  6. I’m trying to do the same things – but sleep has been hard since I can’t stop thinking about the race!
    My favorite pump up songs are a bunch from the latest Jay-z album (especially lyrics with “victory is within the mile), Britney, Usher, Madonna’s 4 minutes (“you only got 4 minutes” makes me think I can do anything for a few more minutes), and in general bad pop music.
    Liz´s last post ..Flavors of Fall

  7. Peanut Butter and Candy Corn, still on my list of best inventions by you:)

    My fave running song is Dear Lucid. Amazing:) Makes you want to haul a**.
    Nichole´s last post ..Breakfast of Champions

    • Haha not sure what that says about me and my culinary skills ;)

      Also, that song is awesome! I’d never heard it before but I think listening to it while running would make you feel wicked hard core!

  8. I love the Dixie cup idea… so I am going to steal it, if you don’t mind. My iPod died with 11 miles left to go on Saturday and I nearly died myself, which got me thinking about the need to practice long runs without music… juuuust in case. My favorite running jams, though, are: “No Hay Igual (Club Remix– this is an important detail),” Nelly Furtado; “No Love,” Eminem ft. Lil Wayne; and “Purple Rain,” Prince (obvi). Hope the rest of your taper is tantrum free! :)

    • Please do! I wish I could take credit for inventing it.

      And I’d never heard the Eminem/Little Wayne song before. Love it! Thanks!

  9. I’m so excited for your race!! I’m sorry you’re going through a rough patch, but it looks like you’ve got an awesome list to get you back on track to feeling awesome.

    As for songs, Stronger by Kanye is always a running favorite of mine. :)
    hbobier´s last post ..New

  10. Oh that gnocchi looks amazing!
    Simply Life´s last post ..Vianne Chocolat: A Piece of Handmade Heaven

  11. the gnocchi looks bomb. seriously. and hey, protein and sugars is GREAT running fuel! :)
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)´s last post ..Mozambique Food Lessons

  12. Love how you describe the taper week! I will wish you good luck for your marathon, even though I know you won’t need it….you will be awesome. Go get’em girl.
    Bekah @ runtrackmind´s last post ..Dont Cheat Your Health

  13. so glad that i found your blog! i love it! great tips by the way. it’s good to have a clear plan during the taper, otherwise it’s far too easy to loose one’s mind. or in my case drive my loved ones crazy!

  14. I never knew that marathon runners who are tapering before a race experience such rough times! Oh my goodness! I can’t even imagine how sore your body must be while repairing itself! I love your message of focusing on the positive, and your great tips: sleep (so important!) and drinking lots of water especially! I remember I had heaps of trouble with shin splints when I ran XC, and I loved that Dixie cup trick! You are so knowledgable about long distance running, Lauren – it’s no wonder that so many people look to you as a resource :)

    I’ll cross my fingers for your knees!

    P.S. Candy corn and PB?? I might have to try that …

    P.P.S. I always let Maddie sleep on furniture! I can’t refuse her anything ;)

  15. Some of my current favs when running are: Uprising by Muse, Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf, Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus, This Aint a Scene Its an Arms Race by Fall Out Boy, Animals by Nickelback and Circus by Britney Spears. (quite the mix huh?)

  16. yum this looks awesome. I make a similar pumpkin pasta dish with sage except I cut and roast the pumpkin instead of using canned pumpkin. Looks awesome with the Gnocchi!
    Mary´s last post ..Cookie Monster

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