Why is “Tapering” so hard?

As I move into the last 14 days of training, it’s time to kick it down a notch or two… It’s time to relax and recover, recoup and plan for Silver Rush. As time starts to stand still and my nerves begin to take hold, I can’t help but wonder…

Why is tapering so hard?
Here is why it is so difficult for me…

1. Routine- We all have a routine. My routine is my rock. When I don’t wake up at 3 am, my days are shot from the start… For some it’s to wake up and rush to work, for others it’s to get up and read the paper before work. For me, it’s to get up and start moving toward my goals, which happens to lead to a lot of running, exercise, and coffee (lots and lots of coffee). Without my morning routine, I am an absolute mess…  I used to sleep until 7 am everyday. After a long, long process of changing my habits, I look forward to the early alarm clock because I get to do something I love, RUN!!! When I don’t get to run in the morning, I don’t have the urge to wake up and I can feel myself slipping back into my old habits… Unfortunately habits never die- we cover them up with dirt and it doesn’t take much for the dirt to erode away…
2. Change- As a species, we don’t like change… It doesn’t matter how much we need it, we don’t like it. Change is probably one of the hardest psychological things we have to overcome in our life. When we change just a little bit everyday, we can make huge progress without a whole lot of thought and struggle because it’s more natural to us. (We are always changing- most of the time we are letting an outside force take the wheel.) Tapering is different. We literally flip around in the opposite direction. We work so hard to improve our health, fitness, muscles, brain, etc to go as hard and as long as we can under intense pressure and stress and then all of a sudden- it’s time to rest and recover… For me, not having the stress and pain causes more anxiety mentally because something doesn’t feel “right”. Without the stress and pain, my body and mind is thrown off it’s equilibrium.
3. It’s my drug and I’m quitting cold turkey…. If you’ve ever dealt with addiction, you know how hard it is to quit. The chemical addiction, the habitual addiction, and the need to just keep consuming. When I’m running, I’m consuming a drug. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind I am high. I bounce off the walls, I smile, I feel good, I’m stimulated in thought and through natural chemicals. When I don’t get this “release” I am not myself. I get grumpy, moody, I eat too much, I sleep too much, and nothing every feels “right”… Think of how hard it is to quit smoking, eating, recovering from a hard core drug like Meth or Cocaine and that is how I feel when I can’t run all the time without consequence.
4. Fear, Doubt & Overthinking- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crossed the finish line and how many times I’ve failed in my head… I have thought about thousands of different scenarios that go good and bad. Have I trained enough? Have I over trained? How’s my diet going to effect me? Will I be prepared: mentally & physically? The more I think about it, the more fear I get, the more I doubt my abilities… I usually handle my stress by running… and I can’t just step out my door and go for a 10 mile run to clear my head. Why? Because I’m fearful that I will hurt myself. Unfortunately I think the mental games we play with our head are worse than the physical beating we put on our body.
If it causes all these problems, why do it? Believe me, if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t taper… Our bodies need it though. As hard as we push ourselves as athletes, we need to take some time off to recover. Depending on who the “expert” is, it takes 6-18 days for our muscles to rest and recover so we can perform our best. We work for months and months to peak just before we taper. By putting all the stress on our bodies we are slowly tearing it apart. Every time we push ourselves to the limit crosstraining, go beyond our farthest or fastest run, put in an additional workout when we’re already tired, we are slowly breaking our muscles, mind and body down…
Out of rest and recovery, our muscles rebuild and come back stronger than they were before. Every time we push past our “best” our mind again finds out that we have zero limits to what we can accomplish. The mentality that comes with going farther and faster and harder is what makes us athletes. Am I going to win my race? Hell no. But when I’m done and I’ve given everything I have I’m going to cross the finish line a champion. My victory is not crossing the finish line. My victory is taking the next step after I want to quit.
Run Epic my friends!
Editor’s note- In the past week since I wrote this, due to stress, anxiety and negative feelings toward the word “taper”, we have renamed this time “selective workouts”. It has done nothing but give us a good laugh and something to talk about… However, this week I’ve needed laughter and distraction more than ever. It’s calmed my nerves and helped me begin the much needed preparation for Leadville.

1 thought on “Why is “Tapering” so hard?

  1. Embrace your selective workouts, Gary, but going for a walk first thing in the morning, while drinking your coffee. Haha! You will be so ready in 5 days. : )

    Like

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