After several years of running races, I have discovered at the end of the training cycle, I’m running on tired legs. Tired legs make every run feel like I’m slogging through cement. Tired legs make my lungs scream out with the smallest amount of effort. Tired legs make the bed more enticing and the outside more frightening.
And after 18 miles on Saturday, my hamstrings curled into the fetal position and said, NO MORE!
With four weeks to go until my race, I know that my body had enough, and now it’s time to taper. A glorious word to a runner. Tapering isn’t laziness, it’s a planned rest, so come race day, I don’t hurt myself.
And it made me wish that life had a taper.
Currently we are in the throes of the last weeks of school. No one wants to get out of the bed. Breakfast time is full of teeth pulling. And lunches? The kids throw in some fruit, peppers and a couple slices of salami and call it a lunch. I can’t even muster the energy to tell them to pack more.
Everyone is tired. We are all dragging our feet until that glorious day in June when we can sleep in, stay in our PJ’s until noon, and live in our bathing suits the other few hours of the day.
In a manner of speaking, we are all living life on tired legs.
The cruel thing about May, is it is the busiest time of year. Open houses, art shows, kid races, conferences, you name it, we got it. The time when we should be slowing down and getting ready for the last big week of school, we are all too tired to do more than make a half-hearted appearance. By the time we get to the end of the year picnic, everyone chugs into the station on empty.
Culture tells us, when we are tired, we should keep moving. Do the next thing, check off the next task, run our kids to the next event. The prize is at the end when we get to relax. But the relaxation never comes, because the next big event is taking shape. And that is what hurts us in the end, because if we are going to complete this big race of life.
Sometimes we need to taper.
This week I haven’t done housework. Dinner is simple if I make anything. Otherwise it is leftovers from the plethora of choices in our fridge. The kids play after school instead of doing chores.
We read more.
We laugh more.
We sit in the silence more.
If we are going to make it until the end of May with our sanity intact, now isn’t the time to push through. We need to save that grit for the last week. Otherwise, we will finish this race limping.