It’s taper time!
And it was about time – it took nearly a whole week for my legs to stop aching and twitching after that 20-miler!
For me, the greatest thing about reducing mileage is being able to discover new routes. The first “long run” after the 20 miles, I had to run for 1h34mins. I decided to head east for my taper runs instead of following my usual westward long-run route into central London. A friend had recommended following the Thames Path to the Thames Barrier, so I picked a beautiful sunny Sunday to run east.
My previous long runs made me familiar with the majority of the London Marathon route, but running east allowed me to get acquainted with the first couple of miles of the route. It takes us from Blackheath through Charlton, up to Woolwich, at which point we turn back and go west towards Greenwich.
After the initial relief at not having to run for so long anymore until the big day, I’ve been starting to get the tapering blues. I have read extensively about the ups and downs of the marathon training cycle, and I had been wondering whether I would feel this “maranoia” that so many runners talk about. Well, it’s hit me and it’s hit me hard.
Whenever someone asks me about the marathon, I can feel the anxiety creeping up as I try to put on a brave face and say all is fine. I know it’s natural to feel nervous in the lead up to an event as big as the London Marathon, but I’ve been asking myself why I feel this way, especially as I’ve been training diligently for the past 4 months.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, worry is a huge part of who I am. Worrying is my natural approach to everything in life. So as a response to this one event, I am worrying about whether I will be able to finish the marathon, whether I will experience any tummy troubles on the day, whether I will have packed enough jelly bloks, whether the weather will be nice, whether I’ve raised as much money as I could for charity, whether this small ache in my leg is a sign of something worse… The list goes on.
It feels like the majority of the training at this point focusses on the psychological aspect of running a marathon. I have to make a concerted effort to remind myself that I did not just dream the past 4 months and the waking-up-to-run-in-the-dark-and-cold-winter-mornings.
Perhaps the biggest fear for me is fear of the unknown. As a first-time marathoner and as a newbie runner, I have no idea what to expect. I do not know how difficult the whole thing is going to be. I have not run beyond 20 miles in one go. And when people say, ‘You can do it,’ I can’t be certain they’re right. I’m one of those people who can only draw certainty from concrete evidence.
To counter the anxiety and stay inspired, I have been watching videos of London Marathons past and Paula Radcliffe interviews on Youtube. I’ve also worked on my Spotify playlist (my trusty companion throughout training), adding a few new tunes to run to on the day. Music has carried me through pretty much every difficult moment in my life, and I suspect that on Sunday 23 April, it will be no different.
Only 8 days left! I’d be interested in hearing from others about what helps them maintain focus when the pressure starts to pile on.