For those training for a spring marathon taper time is almost here.  

Tapering typically involves significantly reducing the intensity and distance you run in the final two to three weeks of training.  

Time for a much needed break for your body from the hard training of the past few months. It also involves a huge mental battle gearing up to the big day... Have I done enough? Do my goals need adjusting? Am I even fit enough to run this race?  

This mental game is even tougher when you are hit with illness and have injury niggles during your block and that is what has happened at Armstrong HQ in the past few weeks at a key phase in both mine and my wife Alison’s training blocks.  

Training at a key time has been disturbed, runs rescheduled or abandoned. Marathon paced sections that should have built confidence (and fitness) substituted for easy runs or bike sessions.  

Thankfully, the virus I had after the Cambridge Half Marathon has gone and I’m feeling a lot better. However, the calf that I tweaked towards the end of that event is still grumbling. 

I’m having to be very careful on runs and build it back up again, which isn’t ideal, but I’m at least grateful to be able to run again. 

What that means for the Manchester Marathon in just over three weeks’ time, I don’t know. 

I explored the possibility of deferring my entry but I’m not quite ready to admit defeat yet.  

I know the fitness I built at the start of the year is largely still there; I just need to get my body in a position to execute a decent race. 

I’ve had to temper down goal times a little but perhaps that’s a good thing. I’ve over-reached before and it hasn’t ended well – one of those occasions being at Manchester in 2018!  

I’m trying not to lose sight of why I entered this training block, namely to build fitness and make better life choices and I have already walked away with new 10K and half marathon PBs during this block.  

I am also aware of others who have had to make the tough decision that a spring marathon is a step too far if they want to stay in the running game.  

There is a noticeable relief for those runners who have chosen to defer or target another race. To those in that position, the training done to this point is never wasted, all those training runs are banked, more positive decisions are made surrounding nutrition and recovery and I know all too well that being out for months with an injury, particularly over those glorious summer months, is too steep a price to pay for one marathon.  

For those doubting whether you have done enough, now is the time to look back at that training diary and celebrate your successes. Those tough runs you completed when you didn’t really have time in horrible conditions; don’t give missed sessions any kind of thinking time. 

I also try to recognize that thought processes aren’t always rational during the taper. This is the period when we are most tired and our brains are trying to keep us safe and in our comfort zone. Anyone that has run a marathon before will tell you - ‘Maranoia’ is real. 

The excitement, nerves, an unhealthy obsession for checking weather forecasts, discovering niggles you hadn't previously noticed and avoiding anyone with so much as a sniffle within a five-mile radius. It’s all part of the process and we are in the final stages now.  

Good luck to those running Wymondham 20 this Sunday. This sold out event will see many of the 600 runners completing their final long ahead of the marathon.  

Some will race it, some will use it as a training run and some will celebrate the success of getting 20 miles completed. However it is approached, it is another step closer to that start line.  

I hope to see someone of you there... 

We’re almost the process and keep going.