Taper Anxiety

Taper Anxiety. Taper Madness. Call it what you will, all I know is, I’ve got it.

My first ever ultra is next week. I’ll be running 50k of tough trails in southern Indiana. I’ve been working toward it since November. In the past couple of months, I’ve run a 28 mile and then a 20 mile run successfully. You’d think I’d be confident, and I was, then. These past few weeks, however, my running has been spotty. I was finishing up graduate school (done!) and working on all the red tape that comes with selling a house and moving an entire family to another country. Time was definitely a luxury, and often, I decided that sleep was time better spent in order to deal with all the stress.

Now that I have free time, I am supposed to taper, or back off on my running routine. Nothing hard, nothing long. You would think I’d be happy about it, but I’m not.

See, when I’m training and running a consistent schedule, I feel empowered. I feel lean and animal. Focused. This taper business does not empower at all. I feel sluggish, flabby, and lost. I look outside and want to go there, but I also feel less…worthy. As if I no longer have the right to call myself a runner.

What if I fail? What if all this rest renders me a permanent couch potato or a simple jogger, unable to endure the suffering to achieve the euphoria that I’m after?

What if I get too…comfortable?

I wonder if you understand my thoughts. I have never run a race of this distance before, and for previous races I’ve done (two half marathons were my longest so far), I certainly had no knowledge of this strategy – or any strategy, for that matter.

Stay the course. Trust your training. Rest. That’s what the wise ones say.

Gosh, I hope they’re right.

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