Tapirs should be taken seriously I’m told.
Personally, I still haven’t made a definite decision about the Sheffield Half, but I see no reason why that should prevent me from putting some unsolicited second-hand advice out there for those of you who are. The week before a big race, especially for a first timer, is always going to be stressful. I think it’s fair to say the accepted wisdom is to be resting up during this time in order to ‘preserve your fitness‘ (Thanks Smiley Elder Super Geek). Let’s face it, at this stage it’s a bit late to imagine you are going to magically metamorphose into an upgraded runner version of yourself within the next 6 days . However, that means that all the time that might normally be spent running around, can now be spent surfing the internet for random advice to get you to the start line in peak physical condition.
As a running blogger (I’ve decided that for today that’s what I am) I feel confident you will be anxious to hear my own Top Tips on the thorny subject of the perfect tapir. Only the other day a running companion gave me a serious look and remarked that ‘one should never underestimate the importance of a good tapir‘, and it occurred to me that this is all well and good and easy enough to say, but what does it actually mean?
For a start, what makes a good tapir? Which ones in particular are relevant here? There are lots of different versions – who knew? At least four distinct species according to this wikipedia page about tapir, so that must be true. I’ll be honest, I was a bit vague about what a tapir is exactly, but I’ve googled them, and they are pretty attractive – especially the calf, but not noticeably aerodynamic or athletic in form. It did make me a bit doubtful about the extent to which an appreciation of these pig like, trunked creatures will enhance my running performance, but on the plus side, they do offer a great photo opportunity – look:
The lying down looks good, and they are probably triathletes too, as they are ace swimmers, though it was a bit more challenging to find any photos of them on bicycles, not that I care about that too much to be honest, this is after all a running blog, not a cycling one, we all have our particular areas of expertise. Actually, I suppose I did find one of a tapir on a bike, colour co-ordinated and everything, but, whilst I’m not a qualified cycling or triathleting official, I doubt this would have been waved through as legitimate competition. I mean, say what you like about cycling, but I think it’s learned its lesson from the Lance Armstrong scandal, and they are a lot tighter with rules and regulations these days… That flamingo is definitely giving some outside assistance don’t you think?
So here is a photo of a tapir swimming really well, it’s not drowning, and it’s not hydrotherapy either. Well I sort of assumed not, because of all the pond weed round about, but then again, loads of spas do expensive algae wraps and things these days don’t they, so maybe it is just doing that.
In fact, I think I’m beginning to see the point.
If you look at google images of tapir, then there are many shots of tapirs variously lying about not doing very much, and flailing around in an algael swamp, apparently enjoying a spa. This does sound like it could be the way to go in relation to easing back on the running prior to a big event. Seems my running buddy’s Top Tips (thanks 007) have more insight than I first credited them with.
So, if you are now scared about your impending half marathon, if you are experiencing all sorts of emotions from the aggravating existential angst to a zillion permutations of unease along the continuum, worry not. Just think about the tapir. What I have learned from them is the following key points:
- Sleep a lot
- have an algae bath
- don’t try cycling, not even if you have a flamingo to help it wont work.
Also (and this is my own non-tapir based tip) try to keep stress levels as low as possible by avoiding all the road closure signs and notifications that have started to spring up all over the place. The sight of them will make you feel sick, and this is contra-indicated at this important time.
Also, eat cake, but not too much. And lay out your running kit a lot and keep looking at it admiringly if possible.
I think that just about covers the tapir. If you want alternative tapir tips, then maybe my blog wasn’t the best go-to website for running insights. You could also try runners world on tapering or wikipedia on tapering – works for me, though I think I can confidently say my article illustrations are rather more appealing. Each to their own though I suppose.
Plus, keep checking the post, only when your race pack finally arrives will the absolute terror show itself, and then you will know what real fear feels like. Just a week to go the Sheffield Half and mine has yet to land. I’m quite relieved really, it means I can continue in denial for a little longer. Periodically I have a little wave of panic that I wont be able to run if it doesn’t arrive in time, but this is probably nothing compared to the tsunami of panic that will engulf me if and when it does land on my doormat, and I come to realise this challenge is real, and I will be expected to run it after all!
So, be careful what you wish for.
Whether running or not, I recommend that over the next week you indulge all and any impulses to sleep, eat and see if you can blag a bubble bath/ hot spa or whatever equivalent is within your budget range. So go wild, indulge yourself, give yourself some sofa time, find your inner tapir, and let’s see what the results have to say about that tactic a week from now.