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The Taper Phantom? Zoinks!


While I do believe that my calf discomfort yesterday was legit, there are a whole other slew of aches and pains that accompany a taper and they are all fake (fancy expert word: psychosomatic). It’s because your brain hates you and after training 4, 5, 6 months for an event, your brain likes to mess with you. Yes, after all that shitty hard training is done, you think you can just coast along for a week or two until race day. But that could not be more untrue. Instead you live in a constant state of fear–fear that something horrible is about to befall you. You are convinced that you will soon be laying on an MRI table instead of toeing the start line. Every move you make is hazardous to your goal of just running this damn race, and you wish you could just seal up inside a very, very protective bubble until the gun goes off. And it would be best if someone could carry you to the starting line lest a tall curb jump out in front of you on your way over from the parking lot.

This morning I took a very routine trip to Wegmans. We were very much in need of beer groceries. As I hoisted a mega-box of Goldfish crackers into my cart suddenly my hip felt… odd. Immediately, I scanned my right side with laser-like focus. Was it acute pain or a dull ache? Did it hurt when I put pressure on that side? Did it hurt when I walked? Was it just my hip or was it radiating down my leg? Why in the very good name of Robert Wegman would the Goldfish crackers be on the bottom shelf? I shouldn’t be stooping and bending with a marathon in 10 days!!! Goddamn these kids and their lunchtime snack treats! Never again! For now on they eat gruel and nothing else. And if the gruel isn’t shelved at eye level then they just eat nothing!!!

See how the taper effs with you?

And not only does the taper make you think your legs are falling off, but it makes you cranky. Cutting back your mileage means cutting back on those feel good exercise endorphins. Yes, the tapering runner suffers Jesse Spano-like withdrawal. We get grouchy, we get crazy, we get manic. We go berserk. One minute we’re so excited. And they next we are so… so… so scared. And then our husbands, dressed smartly in a solid blazer and animal print tie, are wrestling our running shoes out of hands as we sob uncontrollably.

To lessen the taper hysteria, it is best to have another hobby or outlet to fall back on. It is also best that this alternate activity is sedentary to help avoid that debilitating injury that is lurking around every corner. For example, you could collect Pokemon cards. Or you could make cat collages from old magazines. Or you could become a pen pal to prison inmates. Or you can write Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. Or you could read this blog. The mundane possibilities are endless! Just stay off those feet!

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