Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.
As you start to train and build up to a big race or event a rhythm forms. At first it’s a little clunky, muscles hurt, calluses form, blisters come and go but after a while it builds to a gentle hum.
Left, right, left, right, tick, tock, tick, tock.
You watch your mileage build, in distance and elevation and your calves grow and twitch. You get comfortable with the pain, with the food intake and the laundry requirements of training for a big race.
You teach your mind to adapt to the pain, you train it the way you train your legs and your heart. You practice when to panic and when to stay calm, when to race and when to retreat.
Then, with the flick of a switch, you stop your legs and your mind runs away from you!
This torturous routine is known in the running and endurance world as the god awful taper.
According to Runners World Magazine, symptoms include reduced blood flow to your brain, increased VO2 Max and better glycogen storage not to mention the ever increasing nerves, stress and race day nerves.
I am no stranger to the taper nerves. In fact, I passionately hate the taper and admittedly am not very good at it. I’m a highly caffeinated, high paced individual and my daily run is part of a constantly evolving mental health strategy. Stopping or even the idea of stopping or slowing down creates more panic in my brain than is being eleviated in my legs.
So what do I do? I slightly reduce my mileage and increase the intensity. The last few 6-8 weeks of my plan is the only time I really do heaps of body weight exercises and actually put some effort into my speed work (sorry coach!) and I plan.
I ease the monkey mind by planning out my race day strategy. You don’t have to be fancy about it like you’re going to win the thing, just start thinking about the aid station locations, organising your mandatory gear and whether or not you are going to be #teamblue or #teamblack on race day (#squadrunjoke)
And breathe. You’ll be fine. You’ve done the work. Just don’t fall over in the airport, eat so much ice cream that your favourite running shorts don’t fit or decide to change up your nutrition plan the day before the race.
What am I telling you for? I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Breathe