Embracing the Taper

I’m tapering. And I don’t like it. Any marathon runner will tell you that it’s unnerving. You feel a tinge of self-doubt. Your legs feel sore in weird places. You get a little cranky and you obsess over the idea that one more long run will be all you need to really feel ready.

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photo credit: Races to Remember

But here’s the thing: You can’t go for a long run without jeopardizing your race. You can’t take our your crankiness without jeopardizing your relationships (at least temporarily). You are facing one of many mental challenges to training for and running a marathon (or longer). In fact, I’d say the only part harder than taper week is the mile 21 wall that I always seem to hit.

It’s hitting me harder than normal this time. I think this is partly because I just finished my classes a week ago and I’m really unaccustomed to not having a crazy amount of reading and writing to do at night. I also think that this trip out to the race is carrying some special significance, as we will be visiting the town, congregation, and parsonage that my family and I will be inhabiting for a year during my internship. In a very real way, this race marks a time of transition – out of online classes and into internship, out of the house we own and into a house that we don’t yet know, out of the only home my children have ever known and into a new adventure.

And as much as I dislike this taper more than most, I this time is probably the best mental training for life in general. It has taught me about massive patience in the face of urgency. It has taught me to trust my training in the midst of self-doubt. It has taught me to be present in a time of an uncertain future.

So, I’m learning to embrace the taper and, as soon as I start to figure it out, it’ll be race day. And on my next taper, I’ll have to relearn it all again. There’s a sacred madness to this ritual and the fact that I have to relearn it each and every time is a beautiful thing, really. But I’m sure I’ll be writing about that another time.

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Poll time: What have you done to get through the madness of a taper? Any tricks, tips, or hacks that have helped you?

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