• Helen Phillips

Taper Traumas - The Diary of an Apprehensive Marathoner

So far I've ran 8 marathons with 9 and 10 coming in quick succession in the next few weeks.

It doesn't matter how many races you've ran or how quick you go (I'm not super quick, but I'm competitive with myself) you're likely to get MARANOIA. Right now I'm suffering bad and the last few weeks I've been suffering TERRIBLE TAPER TRAUMA!

Every twinge is worthy of A&E, very bite I eat is causing me bloating and to 'pile on fat' and I'm think any sniffle will turn to flu!

Last year, as I tapered for Richmond Marathon BF got me to diarise my feelings. Those witterings turned into this post.

If you're running a marathon shortly you're not alone with these thoughts and feelings of doom!

Big Hugs from Cheesecake Runner


Monday 11th

OK, so maybe my final long run on Saturday followed by an even longer bike ride yesterday, wasn't the best way to prepare my body for 26.2 miles next weekend. But I needed to clear my head, get out there and feel the breeze before I hunker down and ease off training this week. The marathon feels such a long way away. Almost a week.

It's way off in the distance ... largely forgotten ... ages away. No panic!

Since I'm not training (much) this week I'm tempted to return to my old gluttonous ways

Pig out, feet up and drink wine. But my new shopping and cooking habits mean there's no crap in the house and I'm not tempted to open a bottle of red all for myself. Somehow ... sensible head got his way!

Tuesday 12th

Boy my legs are tired. I need to take it easy. Went to my strength and conditioning Barre class yesterday. Gave it max effort, but after my weekends exertions on the roads I think that was a bit much. Must take it easy from now onwards. Sunday is approaching fast.

I'm constantly distracted, with thoughts of race plan strategies, while I work. Mulling over and refining the run-walk strategy that'll get me around the course. Finally, I've nailed the plan, and contingencies if I need to pull out (from running), and settled on a 'get around' time estimate I can live with.

How many people voluntarily get up at 6am on a Sunday morning to put themselves through considerable stress, pressure and pain for t-shirt, banana and bling?

After being injured most of August and only being back running for 2 weeks, I wasn't going to run the marathon. But the lure of a t-shirt and I'm game on!

I'm not sure where my body is regarding having the endurance to run a full marathon, so I'll test with run-walk and if I still feel good after 20 miles, lets see what happens.

Wednesday 13th

My brain has started playing games. I see people out running as I drive, and wonder how they get their legs to move. I have this massive sense of total body inertia, as if I can't move my legs to walk, let alone run!

I feel paralysed ... not knowing how to coordinate my movement

I don't want to head out the door. I don't think I can do this running thing. But I make myself go.

After 45 minutes of easy running I'm back. Sweaty, warm and glowing. My legs do work. I can run. And I feel good.

Thursday 14th

Had a restless nights sleep and I can feel adrenaline surging through my body. I'm not actually thinking of the marathon, but my brain and body knows and it's put me in flight or fight mode.

Relax, stay calm ... you need to rest

When I woke up my ankle was sore. Was it really? I'm sure I felt something. I scan the rest of my body for niggles. I've tight calves and a twinge in my right quad. Foam roller time.

Overnight I must have slept odd as my shoulder and neck are stiff too. My body is a wreck. Should I really be running on Sunday?

Friday 15th

Today I need to carb up, so I'm eating bread, pasta and potatoes at any and every opportunity and I've lost count of the number of bananas I've eaten this week.

I walk around with a water bottle and I'm peeing every few minutes it seems!

Have I left it too late to carb load? Am I going to have enough energy to complete this race?

I head to the nearest running store and stock up on caffeinated energy gels. I know after running for hours these will make me high. They just might be the solution to getting me around those final few miles on Sunday.

Saturday 16th

Relax, rest up and don't do anything silly.

My kit is already laid out ready to go. Epsom salts are by the bath and I'm preparing pre and post marathon supper, high in carbs and with protein for repair. I buy loads of veg from the market and black pudding for after the race. Then make up my post race sausage sandwich with masses of tomato ketchup.

Food food everywhere ... but the adrenaline surging means I feel sick and can't eat

I know I should be snacking all day. Small amounts and often. And keep hydrated. But all I want to do is hide. Do I really have to do this? Can't I just be ill or there be a massive storm and the race be cancelled?


Running a half or a marathon is tough, on your body as well as your mind. We all go through the trauma of taper. So if it's your first half or marathon and you're feeling like this, take heart, you're not alone!

Helen x

PS I ran the best race ever! Not a PB, (I'd been out injured through my training period for 4 weeks).

I only decided to run the marathon on Monday ... having originally thought I'd pull at 20 miles and get a bus back.

So I decided on a run : walk strategy of 30 run 5 walk to just get me around (and qualify for my t-shirt!). On the day I ran 40, walked 5 so my walk breaks co-incided with taking my gels. It worked brilliantly!

At mile 20 I took a caffeine gel and my pace just took off with no additional effort.

I met Simon, my marathon pacer friend at mile 24 and we chatted as he cycled alongside me for 0.5 mile. Then for the final few miles I counted down the minutes until I'd reach the finish line.

400m from the finish, I ran talk and picked up the pace finishing feeling stronger and fresher than I'd ever finished a race. I was 2nd female in my age category!


If you're running a spring marathon and would like some Cheesecake Runner tips for getting prepared this autumn, download my FREE Marathon Preparation Guide. Click HERE to download the guide NOW.