Tapering is said to be a very important part of marathon training. During the last couple of weeks of training, cutting back your mileage is needed to give your body and mind a chance to rest, recover, and prepare for your marathon. Research reveals even more. A review, in the Medical & Science in Sports Journal, shows that levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones depleted from high mileage return to optimal ranges during tapering. The muscle damage that occurs during training is repaired also. What I found interesting as well is that immune function and muscle strength improves to help prevent sickness or injuries before the race.
After three weeks of tapering in my training, I have experienced many taper tantrums. Tapering is supposed to be the best part of training, but has felt like the hardest part full of panic attacks, phantom pains, pre-race anxiety and running withdrawals. I must not be alone in my tantrums because marathoner and physician, Troy Smurawa, M.D., said that runners develop a physical and psychological dependency on running. “So when runners take time off, they go through withdrawal.” Hence, my strange mental and physical symptoms during my taper.
Philippians 4:7 says, “His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
I have noticed that the more I am in scripture and devotion, God’s word puts my mind and heart at rest. As it is important to rest before the marathon (or any race), it is also important to find rest in God to renew our heart, mind and soul. This week, I am reaping the benefits of tapering and recognizing that each mental and physical symptom is a signal that my body and mind are healing. I have now put all tantrums aside and decided that while I am waiting for this marathon, I plan to rest, stretch my body (and faith) and let God help me renew my strength in preparation for the race.