So was this what you signed up for?
With congratulations to all the marathoners of the weekend (Brighton and Paris) there’s less than two weeks to London, and less than that to Manchester. Whether you’re done, or are about to do, it’s quite likely you’re feeling battered, physically and mentally, by what you’ve put yourself through.
Many at this stage of the marathon cycle are wondering, worrying about that latest niggle. Wondering why the most recent long run was so hard accompanied in all likelihood by a series of unfamiliar aches and pains centred on parts of your leg/s you didn’t know existed until now.
Knees ache, calfs ache, thighs ache, glutes ache, quads ache, feet ache.
Tiredness seems to be an item of clothing, and doubt and worry the things that ‘accessorise’ the outfit.
Tightness is a steady state for muscles, and what you thought was going smoothly is now a lumpy, grumbly, maelstrom of potentially revising target times, thinking whether it is even possible, or a devil may care ‘bloody well get through it’ attitude.
Listen very carefully,
pull the screen closer,
read this in detail and absorb,
pay real attention to this.
Niggles, grumbles, tightness, discomfort.
All at this stage of getting to the marathon is all PERFECTLY NORMAL. Perfectly normal.
Stay calm, repeat after me – perfectly normal.
Most of your fellow runners are likely to be experiencing exactly the same, whether they are saying it or not. Whether yelping, or not. Silence hides much discomfort.
They are just as likely to be worrying that their body is collapsing on them at this late stage, that the start line now seems as distant as it did when the entry for the fast approaching race was made. Although it may feel like it, there’s a strong chance your legs aren’t going to come off any time soon.
If we just have a quick look at what you have put your body through since the beginning of January. Since then, that’s 15 Sundays, 15 of the longest runs, 15 weeks of exertion your legs have not experienced before. Is it any surprise those legs are protesting now?
With each training cycle being unique, your body is responding to the unexpected.
You’ve loaded it with effort, gels, shotbloks, electrolytes, protein bars, hills, tempo sessions, threshold sections, race pace attempts, veered round pedestrians who refuse to move out of the way, kids on scooters, smart phone readers, surprise shop exiters, bus stop crowds, and belligerent motorists. Is it any wonder it’s reacted?
It needs some coaxing, some cosseting, some recovery now. That’s exactly what the taper is for. Reduced miles, but perhaps more important to cope with all the tightness woe outlined above is the elixir of rolling and stretching. A programme of full leg coverage – IT band, glutes, quads, calfs, shins. A campaign of care to massage, roll and stretch these key running muscles.
A campaign that’s consistent, persistent and determined.
Funny that, exactly what you’ll need come race day.
You’ve trained to run, now taper to recover to run.
You reassure your body, for it to reassure you. The training done.