The Guilt of the Taper

I have had so many ideas for posts over the past week whilst I have been running which I have noted down for future days, but I wanted to talk specifically about the feeling which I and I am sure around 39,000 other people are currently experiencing as we head towards the big day this Sunday. That is the guilt we feel about the taper.

It is always this last week where every good book recommends you take it easy. Do a reasonable run a week before the marathon (I did a 12 miler), and then spend the next week looking after yourself, getting plenty of sleep, cutting the running down to a minimum and carbo-loading. I know it is the right thing to do, but you can’t help but worry. If you don’t taper, you can exhaust yourself before the start of the marathon, but if you do, then you are probably feeling the same as I.

I’m going to stack on pounds…

It’s pasta week for me. By Sunday, I won’t want to see another plate of pasta ever. The meals planned for this week are pasta and tuna, pasta and salmon, pasta and vegetables, pasta and chicken, lots of water, lots of fruit and vegetables and lots of pasta. We all know nowadays that eating a lot of carbohydrate isn’t so good for your waist line if you aren’t burning it off so, although I know it is psychological, this carbo-loading period still makes me feel like I am piling on the kilograms and I won’t fit into my running shorts by Sunday.

My fitness is going to vanish…

Of course it isn’t. In fact, I have read studies which say that easing up significantly on the miles before the marathon actually helps your fitness (don’t ask me how, the physiological part isn’t really my area). But that doesn’t stop us feeling like we are being lazy and minute by minute, the fitness is draining away.

All my injuries are getting worse…

Purely psychological again, but as worry begins to build leading up to the race, you start to become more aware of it. I have discovered that my so-called hamstring problem isn’t a hamstring at all. I have somehow managed to inflame a disc in my lower back which is causing a great deal of pain to my sciatic nerve which runs all the way down my right leg to my ankle. The irony is the injury doesn’t come from running – it comes from sitting too much!! I have several appointments with an osteopath to try and help it (it hasn’t helped so far) but because I know the race is coming up, it just seems to be getting worse and worse…

Anxiety dreams…

I always used to get them before exams – dreams that you forgot to show up or when you arrived you had studied for the wrong exam. Well, I now have them about marathons. I have already dreamed that I lost the ability to run, that I forgot to go the expo to get my race number and that I forgot what day it is and missed it…


The marathon is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical. When your body no longer wants to keep going, the only thing that will push you forward is your mind. What we should be doing is picturing ourselves getting through the wall, and picturing ourselves crossing the line. What we are actually doing is remembering how painful that wall is, and wondering how the hell we are ever going to make it to the 26 mile mark.

But overall?

Overall, I am so excited. I love this. Yes, I know I am going to be in pain. Yes, I know I am going to want to give up at mile 18 (and I won’t give up). Yes, I know I am going to be questioning my sanity as I run along the Embankment. But this is what I run for. Good luck to everyone on Sunday 13th who is running the London Marathon (or any other marathon for that matter). We’re in it together and it is going to be amazing.


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