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KPCC expert's advice to new LA Marathon runners: Fight 'Taper Madness'




In the 4600 block of W. Washington Boulevard, a runner in a LAAC (Los Angeles Athletic Club) tank top participates in the qualifying round for the marathon to be held during the 1932 Olympic Games; motorists look on.
In the 4600 block of W. Washington Boulevard, a runner in a LAAC (Los Angeles Athletic Club) tank top participates in the qualifying round for the marathon to be held during the 1932 Olympic Games; motorists look on.
LAPL/Security Pacific National Bank Collection
In the 4600 block of W. Washington Boulevard, a runner in a LAAC (Los Angeles Athletic Club) tank top participates in the qualifying round for the marathon to be held during the 1932 Olympic Games; motorists look on.
KPCC's Sharon McNary running the 2009 LA Marathon with Judy Hering. Note the minidisk recorder in her utility belt, and the dowel in her hand, at the top of which is the tiny microphone ($20 at Radio Shack) she used to record the event.
Mike Lynch


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“Staying ‘sane’ during taper. Ha! I’m not sure I’ve mastered that yet,” jokes Whitney Bevins-Lazzara, 2:41-marathoner of Hudson Training Systems Elite. “I try to stay busy with other things; spending more time with my dogs, reading and baking. I love staying busy so just making the conscience effort to rest is important for me.”

-- Caitlin Chock, Competitor.com

The 30th edition of the LA Marathon is Sunday, March 15. And if this year is like past years, most (53%) of the 25,000 people running will be running their first marathon, according to organizers.

That means that right now, at least 13,000 people might be suffering from a syndrome called Taper Madness. (Maybe more. See the quote above.)

According to KPCC's Sharon McNary, for whom this will be her 123d marathon, Taper Madness often happens to inexperienced runners who've been going through a sensible training regimen. "You've probably built up to about 18, 20,  maybe 26 miles in advance of the marathon out in training," she says, "but in the 2 weeks before the marathon, you're cutting back to about half, or a third of your weekly volume. But there are people who will go out and do 20 miles, 18 miles, really close to the marathon, and they risk leaving their good race out on the training course."

McNary, an official marathon pacesetter for those  who run 5-1/2 hour marathons, says it's not that  Taper Madness sufferers are hooked on the adrenaline of running. "No, it comes from an insecurity. They just don't believe that after two weeks of low-volume running they'll be able to come back and do that 26.2 miles really strong and really fast."

So, she says. Relax. Make the marathon a celebration of your training. And don't pig out on the samples at the LA Marathon Expo at the convention center.