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Running column: Time for Mark Armstrong to put all those miles to good use at the Greater Manchester Marathon

PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 06:43 05 April 2019

Mark Armstrong during his last marathon in Nottingham in 2017. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

Mark Armstrong during his last marathon in Nottingham in 2017. Picture: Robin Hood Marathon

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If you talk about ‘tapering’ to someone who doesn’t run they look at you like you’ve just muttered a word in a foreign language.

Mention it to a runner and you start a discussion about exactly what you’re doing during that period.

The general advice is to give yourself around three weeks to gently decrease the mileage and let your body absorb and recover from all those miles of training you’ve put in.

This won’t work for everyone though. Charles Allen’s excellent column last week discussed how a taper must be tailored to each individual, taking into account the kind of lifestyle they lead and how their training block has gone for the upcoming event.

It’s not something that’s concerned me too much because to be honest, I haven’t had much of a taper.

Does it worry me? Yes, a little, and I’ll only know when I’m in the race at the weekend whether I have got it right.

But Neil and I decided that I needed to get in one more long run, two weeks before the event, to nail down the pace I’m going to try and run at.

It turned out to be an excellent training run and I’ve certainly no regrets about getting that last long session in.

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It’s given me the extra bit of confidence I needed that in the latter part of the race, when things get very uncomfortable, I can still get the job done without hitting the wall… as long as I get the pace right.

Neil has warned me that he will “never speak to me again” if I get over-excited and set off too quickly. I think he was joking but I’m going to err on the side of caution and just be sensible about pace, for a change.

I haven’t done months of training and all the 5am alarm calls it has entailed (after many broken nights sleep due to my poor teething son, Logan) to undermine my race by getting it all wrong in the first half of the race.

I’ve lived through what happens in that scenario and it isn’t pretty.

With all the spare time I’ve had (five minutes before I fall asleep in front of my iPad) I’ve allowed myself to do some proper research about the Manchester route.

By ‘proper research’ I mean watching a few Youtube videos about the race.

I hadn’t allowed myself to do any of this right up until the last minute because I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much of making the start line.

Anyone who has trained for a marathon properly will know what a victory that is in itself.

MORE: Check out our 2019 race calendar

This is the ‘fun’ part so instead of getting too worried about what might unfold over the next few hours (or more in my case!) I’m going to take a moment to give myself a little pat on the back… if you’re as inexperienced as I am over the marathon distance then you should too.

As clichéd as it sounds (and I’ve spoken to a lot of football managers during my time as a reporter who love a cliché) the only pressure you feel ahead of a race is that which you put on yourself.

I’ll be disappointed if I don’t do myself justice in the race but the beauty is that there is always another one.

So it’s worth bearing in mind for anyone that is tackling a big event this month, be it Manchester, Brighton, London or of course the City of Norwich Half Marathon this weekend, everyone wants you to do well.

We can do this, we will do this.

Good luck this weekend…see you on the other side.

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