Yep – I’m in taper mode, and thought I’d jot down a few tips for dealing with this critical – yet oh, so difficult – period.
No, not for the runner. What the hell do I know? This is only my second taper. There are plenty of articles by experts on how to use your taper period for maximum performance. All I know is that my house is a lot cleaner than it has been in months and I’m officially obsessed with Homeland, now that I have the time to watch it.
What I have for you are some tips for the people who have to live with you, or deal with you every day, during your taper. Because I’m no expert on marathoning, but I’m well-versed in the crazy. And I think that the taper may be harder on your loved ones than on you. So let’s help them out a bit, shall we?
Without further ado, here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for loved ones of Crazy Taperers:
1. DON’T tell them they’re crazy to worry. Don’t tell them they’re crazy at all. They know they’re crazy. Broaching the subject is just poking the bear. And even sane people tend to worry about things that mean a lot to them. The upcoming marathon is worth running 18 miles in a windstorm with the remnants of a shiner from the previous week’s long run. It is worth getting up in the dark to “squeeze” in a 17-miler before a full day of work and other commitments. It is worth staying in on weekend nights to be fresh for a super-long run the next morning. Suffice it to say, the race is worth A LOT to them. The Crazy Taperer might be crazy, but the worry isn’t a sign of it – it is just a sign of how much the race means to them. And yes, even if they have knocked off 7 prior marathons, there is a part of them that worries that they might not finish. Yes, Really. So don’t look at them like they’re crazy for thinking that. Maybe don’t look at them at all.
2. DON’T ask them to do anything. Not the time to trot out the “Honey Do” list. Or ask if they’ve paid the mortgage, gone grocery shopping or picked up the kids from school. Or whether they can go to dinner with your boss, mother or friend from summer camp. Or whether they can hand you the remote. Leave them alone. Don’t poke the bear.
3. DON’T touch their food. You might see weird food in your house. If you see gels, goos, chews, algae bits, bars, powders, weird fruits, vegetables or juices, don’t touch ‘em. If you see something that was not regularly stocked in your parents’ home when you were growing up, don’t touch it. And if it was something your parents bought, but only because they were hippies, don’t touch that either. If you see any carb-heavy foods in your kitchen, back slowly away and DO NOT TOUCH them unless your beloved Crazy Taperer has told you that there are enough pancakes for both of you. Better to lose out on a bagel than lose a finger.
4. DON’T touch their gear. Maybe it is freezing and you want to run out and get the paper so the Crazy Taperer can get the New York Times and coffee delivered bedside. Don’t put on the Crazy Taperer’s running jacket or hat to do so. Crazy Taperer will notice if they have been touched and will freak. Maybe it’s Halloweeen and you want to throw on your Crazy Taperer Mom’s LED flashers to avoid being hit by cars in your black ninja costume. DON’T. Take your chances with the cars – you have better odds of survival.
5. DON’T wake them up. Ever. Whether it is morning, noon or night. Just…don’t. They’re tired. Very, very tired. And while they are sleeping, you’ll get a break from the crazy.
6. DON’T ask them if it is really a good idea to do a Spartan followed by a night out with their drinking buddies the week before their marathon. Or a Warrior Dash that ends at a Shock Top tent the week before their first Ultra. We all know the answers and the questions need not be asked. They signed up, they don’t skip races, and they’re doing it even though it is stupid. There is nothing to discuss. Don’t poke the bear.
7. DO start weather stalking. Check the weather for the race location starting about 2 weeks out. No, it won’t be accurate. That’s not the point. The point is that the Crazy Taperer will also be checking and it will prepare you to deal with an even worse mood or, perhaps, a few moments of calm and happiness. Maybe even a ray of hope. Don’t discuss your findings, though. Just consider it useful reconnaissance. A weather-related conversation prior to race day will rarely go well. Trust me.
8. DON’T ask if they have PMS. Or whether they think they might be going through “The Change” or “Manopause.” Unless you want to die a slow and painful death.
9. DO give them a lot of space. Like, a whole house full of space. Lots and lots of space. A business trip is not a bad idea. Nor is serving on a jury that requires sequestration.
10. DO tell them that you know they will do great. Tell them that you are so proud of how hard they have trained and what you know that they will accomplish on race day. Even though they will yell at you for saying it and tell you that you just don’t understand. They will argue, but they will hear you and appreciate it. They really will.
Most importantly DO keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and after the race, you will get to enjoy time with your loved one while they are on a runner’s high of EPIC proportions. Well worth the crazy of the Taper. Be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.