When the taper brings nothing but self-doubt

There’s less than 2 weeks to go until the London Marathon.  The day when the last 18 weeks of training are put to the test, the day when you realise if all the hard work and sacrifice was worth it, the day when you bask in glory…or crash and burn in a devastating fall from grace, the day when everyone else knows whether you succeeded, or whether you failed…

There’s less than 2 weeks to go until the London Marathon and that means it’s time for the taper to slowly chip away at every ounce of confidence you ever had.


The taper’s a funny thing, you spend all winter looking forward to those 2/3 weeks at the end of your plan when the intensity drops back and the long runs look easy, but when it gets here it’s not quite as much fun as you thought.  By the time the taper arrives you know it’s too late to change anything, there’s absolutely nothing more you can do to make yourself fitter, stronger, or faster except wind down, rest and eat well.  It’s terrifying!

On Saturday I went for a Parkrun PB, I actually wanted more than a PB, I wanted a confidence boosting 21:59.  Having gone to bed early, and dragging myself out in the pouring rain on a Saturday morning, I fell off the pace quickly and finished in a disappointing 22:23.  Rubbish.

However, it was my 2nd best Parkrun time ever, and this time last year I could only dream of anything starting with a 22, surely that’s a positive thing and a sign that the hard work is paying off?  So, this Saturday I’ll be trying again, one last shot at sub 22 before judgement day.

It’s difficult not to question every decision I’ve made over the last few weeks.  Should I have picked up the pace a bit more in my long runs?  Could I have tried just a bit harder in the Hampton Court half?  Should I have pushed through the last 2k at track last week when my legs didn’t work rather than bowing out?  Did I run too fast at tempo?  Was 3 x 20 milers enough?  Could I have done more, run further, tried harder???

Once you throw in the phantom injuries, imaginary niggles and overwhelming paranoia you realise the taper is anything but fun.  You’re convinced you’re going to get sick from the snotty nosed teenager that just sneezed on you, or you’re going to accidentally fall off a bridge into the Thames and break your leg, or Snoopy, the crazy dog who lives down the road, is going to bite your arm off and tear you limb from limb.  Convinced. (Snoopy really is a nutter you know).

I really don’t know what race day will bring this time.  I do know that I’ve run more miles (yes, I’ve counted), and put in more effort (yes, I’ve calculated) than I have for any other marathon, but I really don’t know if I’ve done enough.  I do know that I’m not ready for this taper, not ready at all.

And I don’t know if I can do it.


The Poncey Air Kiss that could undo it all

There’s just 4 sleeps to go until I run my 7th marathon.  I’ve got a sore throat and I’m pretty sure my leg’s about to fall off.


No, really, I jogged, jogged round the block on Monday and there’s a new weird pokey unexplainable kind of pain in my dodgy leg….

Is it real?  It feels real…it even made me limp a little yesterday.  I’ve been doing all my lazy arse exercises, my foam roller is my new best friend and I’ve even been stretching after I run (I know, I don’t recognise me either).  So what the hell is it and where has it come from all of a sudden??

I know what you’re thinking.  The taper has got me.  But I think your wrong, injury has set me back so much it doesn’t even feel like a taper so how can I be suffering taper madness?  Exactly.

It’s also that time of year when the weather is changing and all the sickly types are starting to get, well, sick.  Why does this mean that everyone INSISTS ON TOUCHING ME.

Do you have to give me a kiss on the cheek?  Do you?  We’ve had 38 meetings before and you’ve not felt the need to kiss me until this particular occasion when you’ve just had a coughing fit and have snot dripping down your nose.  Thanks.  Appreciated.

Don’t get me started shaking hands. What is that? Why do we need to shake hands?  Will it really compromise our business relationship if our hands don’t touch?  Can’t we just smile?  Keep your gross germy hands safely in your pocket and…


If that wasn’t bad enough I have the added challenge of negotiating the rat race on a daily basis just so I can get to the place where all people insist on touching me.

Don’t get me wrong, being a Londoner is bloody brilliant, but you know what’s not bloody brilliant?  Getting the tube to work.  Packed full of germ infested, snotty, coughy, wheezy, sneezy commuters, tourists, children and even animals that are waiting in eager anticipation to invade my personal space just to spread their germs.  I hate you all.  WHHHAAAAAA


On top of all that it looks like there’s a storm coming.  Of course there is. Of course there is.



If you have the pleasure of seeing me in the next few days I strongly suggest you approach with caution, keep a comfortable distance and bring copious amounts of Berocca, hand sanitiser, First Defence, chewable vitamin C and broccoli.  Thank you please.


The Bit Before the Taper…

  • There’s a dull ache in your legs that you just can’t shift
  • You waddle down the stairs amusing your colleagues no end
  • You’re so exhausted your housemate pokes you on the sofa to check you’re still alive
  • The weariness makes simple tasks confusing
  • You’re always hungry
  • 15 miles is an appealing ‘shorter run’…

It’s almost time for the taper, you know it’s coming, it’s waiting for you with open arms… but you’re not quite there yet.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a shiny shop window last night.   Luckily it was dark, I looked like this…


The weeks before the taper are the hardest, for me anyway.  Not only is mileage at its highest but you’re still trying to get some quality speed sessions in and recover from every session quickly so you’re ready for the next one…it hurts.

Ironically, I’m not actually a massive fan of the taper – it makes me a little bit crazy (yes, more than usual), I worry about getting fat and how the hell I’m actually going to run 26.2 miles.  But I definitely like the idea of it at this stage.

Last Sunday my running club hosted the Thames Riverside 20 – a lovely 20 mile run along the towpath.  Lovely, but it’s pretty much all off road.  I planned to run 9mm to the 10 mile mark then pick up the pace. Of course I didn’t, I ran with the 8.30 group and dropped back at 15 miles, the last 5 miles were really challenging and I finished feeling disappointed and slow.

Clapham Chasers Thames Riverside 20 – much happier at the start than the finish!

photo (15)

Those 20 miles were exhausting, much more so than the 21 miles I ran the weekend before.

Recovery has been an arse – after resting on Monday and 5 miles or so on Tuesday I couldn’t face my 9.5 miles on Wednesday and had to run them last night…I should be running round Regents Park right now, but I’m not, I’m writing this because my legs aren’t willing to do as they’re told.  Soooo, that leaves me some miles to make up on Sunday then.  Yippppeeeeee!

Right now, I can’t wait for the taper. But next week? Well, we’ll see.