[Note I’ve added some extra text to a previous blog entry]
It’s a few weeks now to big race day. For Marathoners particularly, it’s now the tiredness, the niggles, aches, the wondering and worrying, really starts to kick in. So far you’ve probably been able to keep it at bay with the ‘oh it’s weeks away yet, plenty of time’ line.
I’ve seen a few tweets talking about Maranoia, as the doubt kicks in and you start worrying about all kinds of stuff related, and in many cases totally unrelated, to the upcoming long run experience. It could have been set off by a poor training run, the return of an old niggle, slower recovery from injury than expected, the fact your race pack hasn’t arrived yet, that piece of kit doesn’t quite fit right, on and on and all so not positive about your chances in the upcoming weeks.
Maybe it hasn’t hit you yet, maybe it never will, but just be prepared for it to creep up on you and start rubbing away (like an Aussie cricketer) at your confidence. Whatever you are training for, your long race, as it beckons, winking at you, sashaying on the horizon, with its ‘come and get me’ eyes, it’s likely that like Jekyll and Hyde the alter ego will also be issuing threats, sending the bailiffs round with their demands for ever greater effort from your metaphorically wrecked body, issuing an enforcement notice for that race pace over an ever greater distance, more than that 19-20k you’ve just done. And that ‘enforcement notice’ looks totally unreasonable, that pace for even further?
For almost twice that distance?
No pedestrians in the way though!
This is all completely normal.
These worries, completely normal. The nagging doubts, completely normal. Feeling like you’re dragging a husk around on bloody stumps, thinking on your next long run you just want to jack it in after 8km, feeling tired for most of a run, wondering why you’re still dragging yourself out of bed on a Sunday morning without the lightness you might of felt in the early stages of your training, completely bloody normal.
Wondering why your legs seems to ache in a way you haven’t experienced before, everything feeling tight, piano strings a major component of your legs, scrapes, bumps, grazes from trips, falls from tarmac greeting, musing whether you need new trainers and whether it’s too late to change them before race day, concerned you have run long enough, too much, not enough, not fast enough, not at right pace, worried about your hydration and fuelling, that you’ve tried the right gels, bloks, fuel for the race, or not even thought about it, and now I’m really worrying, yep completely normal.
Thinking through your plans for race day and getting concerned about kit options, how best to tie your laces, whether you need some new socks, how chafing is going to be avoided, how to get through the early race sections when it’s going to be really crowded right? Totally, completely normal.
Justifying that putting that right sock on first, then the left, will mean I run a better race. Ahh let’s move on……..
Rather than the end of your training answering questions, it seems just to generate more. Provide more reasons to worry, be concerned about the minutiae of the running and racing, and raise issues you hadn’t even thought of till you read some of the stuff above, whoops.
All of that is nothing to worry about actually, taper is about to come, and if you plan in some sports massage, some advice from a running coach, and the rest and recovery that taper brings will get you to that start line refreshed, rebuilt, and worrying a little less, perhaps. It’s a time to think on the positives, realise what you have acheived in getting to this stage in your training cycle.
It’s also worth considering a previous blog I wrote in April 2015 which I’ve updated below:
So is this really what you signed up for?
….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, calves 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 revised 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…well you know the words now, don’t you?
Stay calm, repeat after me – it’s all completely bloody 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, many concerns, a multitude of worries, even for the most experienced.
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 very 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, calves, 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 get ready to taper, to recover, to run.
You reassure your body, for it to reassure you. The training is nearly done, revel in that, enjoy the achievement – respect. Your race beckons, now go and bloody enjoy it.
I’m due to run my 9th Marathon this year, taking on a new challenge with the Manchester Marathon on Sunday 8th April 2018.
I’m running for the Place2Be and if you’ve found the blog useful I would like to ask you to sponsor me by clicking the link below:
The Place2Be works across England, Scotland, and Wales to provide a range of vitally important mental health and wellbeing support to children in school, they’ve also been providing support to children and their families caught up in the Grenfell Disaster.