Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Taper tantrums are very real problem and prevalent among many runners training for a marathon. As a friend and loved one of a runner, it is important to be equipped to handle situations that arise due to “The Taper.” These five tips will help you deal with your runner.
During a taper tantrum, the rational part of the runner’s brain is not working. One minute they will believe they are injured and the next they will think that by running less they are losing fitness. Pointing out the fact that they are crazy will only make things worse. It is best to ignore them until they calm down—or until race day.
Taper tantrums are often triggered by hunger and fatigue, and chances are your runner is suffering from both. Be sure to have snacks on hand so that when your runner’s blood sugar drops you can prevent them from getting cranky.
Create a diversion.
To keep a major meltdown at bay, try to distract your runner with normal activities. Suggest they go to the movies on a Friday night since they don’t have a long run scheduled for the next morning. Or take them shopping for food since even though they are running less, they will still be very hungry.
Incentivize your runner.
Runners are often goal-oriented and respond well to incentives. An incentive, like offering to buy them a margarita and all-you-can-eat burgers and fries after the race can help you avoid an embarrassing taper tantrum in public.
If you feel the urge to slap them, walk away and take a deep breath. Often times, hitting your runner will only make things worse. Chances are they will calm down if you are also calm.