As the countdown to the Paris Marathon continues, there remains only 6 more days until the Parisian 26.2. I’m excited, most definitely, but there is also that itch… those thoughts, that feeling in the pit of your stomach, symptoms which anyone who has ever run a marathon will be familiar with. It may not be a recognised medical condition (yet) but it has a name.
They call it…maranoia. Or marathon paranoia, for the unacquainted.
Marathon paranoia stems from a number of sources – I blame:
(1) The excess energy coursing around your body as a result of a reduced training load, fuelling silly thoughts as a result of having no other output.
(2) Having a lot more time than usual to think about everything – every niggle, every potential pitfall, every conceivable obstacle or worry that you can think of.
(3) Then there’s the fact that your last proper long run is 3 weeks out from marathon day, being reduced from around the 20 mile mark to 16 the following week and then a paltry 12 miles the week before the race. In running such a comparably short distance in your long run, you start to worry that (a) you’re not doing enough and (b) why does 12 miles all of a sudden feel like a long run and if this is how much work 12 feels like, how in the hell am I going to be able to run 26? Oh my god, it’s not even half of the full distance?!?!?
What’s that twinge in my foot? Is that a hot spot? Oh my god, do I have a stress fracture? Why do I feel rubbish today on my run? It doesn’t make any sense… I’m running less this week than I have for months, I should feel bloody amazing… I should be running like frickin Mo Farah but I feel like the Dowager Countess trying to run to the end of the driveway. OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?
What kind of an idiot signs up to run a marathon anyway? 26.2 miles is just a ridiculous amount of running to do for any human being. What was I thinking? Would anyone notice if I just didn’t do it…….
I’ve become very familiar with this condition in recent years and although I’ve learnt to expect it, rather like an unpleasant guest whom you know will be coming to dinner, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel and think all of the above nonsense and have to go through it all. Every. Time. I keep thinking that perhaps if I can foresee it’s arrival, I will be able to head it off at the pass. Apparently not.
I ran my final long run ahead of next weekend’s Paris marathon this morning – 12 miles. No problem, you would think having been running circa the 20 mile distance as my long run for the last few weeks. Short, you would think. Easy, you would think. Nothing to it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I thought.
I felt every bit of this 12 mile “long run”. My legs were tight and sluggish, my coordination felt completely off kilter and I couldn’t seem to get past just how long 12 miles all of sudden seemed to feel like. It was very weird and I didn’t like it. But I know what this is. I’ve been here before, which is also why I know from experience that’s important at this point to trust the schedule, have faith in the taper and not to freak out. It’s worked for me in the past and I’ve no reason to doubt it now (touch wood – let’s not get reckless here…)
I positively hate the marathon taper. I hate running less, I hate the excess energy belting around my bloodstream, inducing jittery feelings all over… and I hate having an unsettled mind that seems to be constantly racing and over-thinking everything. Madness is not far away, people. But I do the taper EVERY TIME I’m preparing to run a marathon because I honestly believe it does your body good and that it will stand to you on race day. I may be stark raving mad come the morning of the race, but my body will have had more time to recover, repair and replenish itself before I put through the rigours of running 26.2 miles.
It is important. It is necessary. Time to put up and shut up. Oops, it may be too late for that last part….