Over the years I have found that running stabilizes me, sets bad days back on track, calms my mind, and always improves my mood. I often run at lunch to collect and organize my thoughts and after work to shed the stress of a long day. On weekends I rise early and start my days the only way I know how to anymore: with long runs that connect far flung suburban neighborhoods, invigorating track workouts at a local high school, or leisurely recovery runs on trails above Reno where I watch as the rising sun greets the sparkling casinos of The Biggest Little City.
As beneficial as running is to my mental health, it becomes the root of an ongoing Catch-22 when racing is thrown into the mix. I love to race, but racing means tapering, tapering means less running, and less running often means an irritable, crabbier version of me who no one really likes all that much and is prone to what I have come to call Taper Tantrums.
As a runner, you know your body needs to rest and recover to perform at its best on race day, and you know that means drastically scaling back daily mileage and run intensity leading up to races, so you taper. In the weeks before a race you look at your calendar and take stock of the following days and your ever-shortening, maddeningly easy runs; five miles, four miles, three, two, an entire day off of your feet.
You feebly try to convince yourself that you will enjoy the rest, but you know better, you know you will spend untold hours envisioning the course profile and staring hopelessly into space as you try to wrap your head […]