Marathon Training and My Theory about Tapering

Shelley's DiaryWell, all of the long runs of my marathon training are done. The hay is in the barn, as my coach said. (apparently that’s the thing to say after marathon training is complete!) I did my first official 20 mile race last weekend.

And I think I’ve discovered why there is a taper between long runs and the marathon

My theory is that it’s kind of like childbirth.

If you have given birth, or know anyone who has, you’ve probably heard that many new mothers “forget” the pain of labor once they meet their newborn.

I’m pretty sure that’s the theory behind tapering before marathon day.

The labor is the training we’ve been doing for the last few months, the long runs growing longer and longer, working up to that last long training run of 20 miles.

And about 16 miles in (transition), cursing the friends who talked you into doing the marathon in the first place. “You did this to me!”

Clarksburg Country Run - 20-miler
Clarksburg Country Run, 20-Miler 11/12/17

Swearing to God and anyone else who would listen that this marathon would definitely  be “one and done”.

Then, realizing that in only a few short weeks, a new marathoner will be born.

And on the drive home from the 20-miler, while commiserating with my friend, actually already saying “those 20 miles weren’t really as bad as I was making them out to be!”

Yep, just like childbirth.

No longer physical

I had originally wanted to run at least 23 miles so I’d have that distance under my belt and the confidence of knowing I really only had a 5K left. The thing is, nobody recommends a training run longer than 20 miles for a first-time marathon.

And besides, of my experienced running friends told me that anything after 20 miles is no longer physical. It’s all mental.

That’s what I was afraid of.

Think I’ll sit down and write myself a letter

So I’m going to take my friend’s advice before pushing this marathon out.

I think I’ll write myself a letter to be opened and read on marathon day.

I’m going to write like I’m writing it to my best friend. I’m going to tell her how proud I am that she has made it this far; that the hardest part is behind her, and she fought through training like a badass.

I’ll remind her about how capable she has become, and to listen to the voices of her running friends who have encouraged her during training. “You’re looking strong!”

I’m going to remind her to take it one mile at a time. The only one that matters is the one she’s in at any given moment. Make it through that mile, then worry about the next.

I’m going to remind her to follow the plan for nutrition and pacing. Coach Carissa has given solid advice and training, and it’s all worked out better than expected!

And I’m going to remind her that at the end of the long, 26.2 mile labor, a brand new marathoner will be born.

And she can do anything!

WANTED: Mantras

Meanwhile, I’m in need of some mantras to have at the ready on marathon day. Please share your favorite mantras in the comments below.

Author: Shelley English

Shelley is a wife, mom and executive assistant who loves to spend the rest of her time running and writing.

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Lyly Gelles
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Head up – wings out. Run the mile in you are in. You are badass!

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