’tis the season to be antsy, isn’t it?  Right about now thousands upon thousands of marathoners are hopping up and down, energetic and anxious as their big 26.2 mile day approaches…far too slowly. They can’t train heavily because they’re in taper but they’re too revved up physically and emotionally to NOT want to train.  The resultant mess is sometimes called “taper madness”, and those who experience it could really use some relief.  Here are some ideas to try out:

1) Whenever I taper, I try as much as possible to distract myself with other things in life, but that doesn’t always work fully.  Before anything else, ensure you pay more attention to your family, work on another hobby or just catch up on things neglected due to your marathon training.  Taper madness for more important events, however, is resistant to this method.

2) Research your sport and develop the training plan for your next cycle.  I never seem to have enough time or energy to go over the literature on running and training, but with a decrease in running related commitments during a taper, plus another training cycle on the horizon, gives one a splendid opportunity to build on one’s knowledge before committing to the journey towards the next race.

3) Schedule periodic short distance time trials to test yourself over the 1 mile and/or 5k distance.  If you do this for every taper, you’ll not only get to check your ability over these short distances, you can compare your performances between training periods and cut your taper anxiety into manageable bites.  Instead of 2-3 weeks of waiting around with little to do, one can wait one week till that 5k time trial, then another till the 1 miler, then finally one last manageable week until the marathon itself.  Such tests also take advantage of common advice about the taper:  reduce mileage while maintaining intensity.  It also makes a superb way of boosting your confidence, since its very unlikely that a concerted period of training (such as happens between, say, your last race taper and now) wouldn’t result in improvements.  Deep marathon training periods can leave you feeling slow, tired and even borderline injured, and therefore vulnerable to doubt.  Substantially upping your 1 mile performance from earlier in the year will help combat this.  Time trials combined with the above mentioned tactics will hopefully lessen taper madness for you.

And try not to go TOO nuts….see you on race day.

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