Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dear Taper....

Dear Taper,

I can't quite remember how you came up with your name. Was it decided like my sister's in the hospital over a game of cribbage? Or did your parents, play rock, paper, scissors and the winner got to choose? In either event, you were different from the beginning. Instead of running with your friends, fartlek, tempo and LSD out on the playgrounds, you decided it was better to chill. "Come and play, with us" , they shouted and you thought them fools to expend all their energy. You were like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. You were storing energy for that BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) or "A" race.

As you grew up, you positioned yourself in the middle between Training and Racing and completed the triangle of a runner's cycle. Recovery? Who needs that? You, were more important and worked on your craft. A bit like Hamlet, you began whispering in the ears of runners:

"I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft."
(III. iv. 187-8.)

The craft you stated, was that if you followed me, cutting back on mileage, but not necessarily intensity, and allowing the body to rest and rebuild, you, the runner, would be at your best you said. That climb up the mountain to achieve your BHAG or "A" race although still difficult, would not be as perilous.

However, maybe it was like the story that gets told to one person, but by the time it gets to the 10th, the intent and originality is skewed and nowhere near the original meaning. This is what I believe has happened to you, Taper. Somewhere, somehow your ideas got misinterpreted and a whole sub culture began a rapid ascent to the top.

Instead of enjoying and savoring that which is you and part of the process, people began freaking out. They mistook the decrease in mileage as a sign that they were losing fitness. They looked at the extra time on their hands from not training and began letting thoughts of self doubt, "Why didn't I hit this workout as hard? " and "Am I really ready?" creep in. They begin avoiding everyone and everything fearing sickness or injury. I know this was not your intent, and I too admit to in the past to falling into this trap. But, no longer will this be.

I have come to understand Taper, that you have a purpose. There is a craft to your "madness". Like any journey, there will be peaks and valleys. At the peak of our training, we must allow a little bit of a slide into the valley before the push up to the top. The slide, yes you Taper, allows us to build momentum necessary to make it to the top and achieve our BHAG . You are not something to fear or freak out about, but rather something to embrace.

Someone once said, "with great power, comes great responsibility." So Taper, I hope you find time to reflect as you sit on the sideline watching speed work, intervals, and the others run about and seek to restore your true intent.



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