Tonight I completed my last run before my half marathon on Sun. Although it was only about 3 miles, it was one of the most mentally tedious runs I’ve ever completed.
I have never completed tapering (the process of scaling back mileage prior to a race to allow the body to fully recover) on my own. In high school my coaches designed the workouts, so I just did as they said. Mind you in track I often had to be told more than once to stop doing run-throughs of hurdles the day before a meet, but either way someone else was forcing me to stop training.
Tonight I had to force myself to stop. At least 3 times I contemplated making my run longer or faster. All I kept thinking was “This feels like an itch I can’t scratch.” While I could have made the run as long or as fast as I wanted, I had to keep the higher interest in mind. I just kept repeating “Save it for Sunday, save it for Sunday.”
I truly believe now that tapering is as equal in mental preparation as it is physical recovery. It makes you want to run even more. It’s like denying yourself dessert all week just to indulge in something decadent on the weekend; it makes it taste even better. I have never been as mentally psyched about competing in a race since I qualified for districts in track my senior year of high school. I have never prepared as hard for something either. To think at the start of the summer I wasn’t even sure I could train because my knee kept acting up makes it even more gratifying that I’ve logged so many miles.
When I line up with those other runners on Sun. morning I know that I will be ready, both physically and mentally. It has been a great summer of training and now it’s time to reap the self-satisfying reward.