Signs You Might Be Experiencing Taper Madness

Cropped shot a beautiful young woman training outdoors while listening to music

Taper madness [noun]: a state of mind that occurs specifically during the two weeks before a marathon or other major race, during which the runner experiences heightened paranoia and racing thoughts due to the lessened amount of running that takes place during a taper. Signs and symptoms may be as follows:

  • You wake up one morning and think that your throat MIGHT be a tiny bit sore and your nose is a LITTLE bit stuffed up- so you immediately head to WalMart and start mainlining Emergen-C
  • You walk down the El steps by placing each foot on one step before proceeding to the next so that you don’t accidentally fall down the stairs. All while clutching the railing in a death grip
  • The panic that not running 15+ miles means you’re going to lose all your endurance (submitted by Julie Martin)
  • You go into full on nesting mode with your free time (submitted by Hannah Lonky)
  • You start having incredibly realistic panic dreams every night about oversleeping for the race, showing up without your shoes and pretty much anything else that can go wrong (submitted by Hannah Lonky)
  • You try to stretch and calm down by attending more yoga classes than usual, inspiring you to sign up for yoga teacher training despite the fact that you can barely touch your toes. (submitted by Hannah Lonky)
  • You obsessively check the ten-day forecast, planning and re-planning your race day outfit according to the slightest changes in temperature and humidity.
  • You experience appetite confusion – you realize that you’re not running as many miles, so you know that you don’t really have an excuse for housing down a stack of pancakes AND an omelet at brunch … but you still wanna.
  • Cross-training after months of only running seems like nothing short of a revelation. Pilates? HIIT? Yoga? YES, PLEASE.
  • You refuse to eat anything different or try anything new for fear you’ll trigger an allergy you didn’t know you had or get food poisoning. Actually, you might refuse to eat out at all, since cooking for yourself is really the only way you know what’s in your food.
  • The care and precision with which you plan your marathon playlist is at the same levels of how long you took writing your college application essay or your first cover letter.
  • Train rides, walks to work, and pretty much any time you don’t really need your brain is now devoted to positive visualization.
  • You watch the hyperlapse video of the race course no less than 30 times.

What other signs of taper madness have you experienced? Any advice for me to overcome it?

Endurance Move

About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.