Running column: The hard work is nearly it’s time for the tapering mind games

Mark Armstrong is running the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham later this month. Picture: Alison Ar

Mark Armstrong is running the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham later this month. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography - Credit: Archant

The long training runs are done. Completed. Finito.

After banking 21 miles last weekend, in torrential rain towards the end, I felt great. My body had held up well during the run, not all of it at the pace I wanted, but the miles are in my legs…something I didn't think was going to happen a month ago.

It took a couple of days for the inevitable stiffness to subside but once that had gone I wanted to get back out again and fit another run in.

The fact I was at the Great North Run supporting my wife and watching Mo Farah claim his fourth victory in a row only made my desire to get back out running even stronger.

I needed to be reined in and fortunately Neil Featherby has been there to do exactly that.

He told me to take it easy and not get caught up in the atmosphere in Newcastle.

I haven't always taken advice from others but I'm more than happy to defer to Neil's expertise as Nottingham approaches.

Most Read

This is only the second marathon I've trained for and he knows how much I don't want to repeat my experience at Edinburgh when it took me over two hours to run (I use the term loosely) the last six miles.

MORE: It's difficult finding time to fit in your long runsI'm firmly in the tapering phase – a period when I'm supposed to reduce my training and let my legs absorb those weeks of high mileage.

You would think it would be relaxing…it's not.

After running nearly 30 miles every week for the past month (a lot for me) it's felt very strange not constantly thinking about when I'm going to fit my next run in.

But sometimes it's about training smarter, not harder.

However, the inner monologue is constantly saying 'you should probably fit in another hard run'.

But the truth is what I do between now and September 24 will make very little difference in bringing my time down. What's more likely to happen is that I pick up an injury – something I've done all too regularly as any regular reader of this column will testify.

But the body is holding up well. I'm operating in the red zone of what I can cope with but nothing has turned from a niggle into a full blown injury that I can't manage. I've got to ensure it stays that way and resist the temptation to put in another real effort run.

There is only so much I can control however…unfortunately a plague of manflu has struck the Armstrong household over the past few days, laying both my wife and daughter low.

My first priority is to help get them well but the selfish runner in me is also constantly thinking 'please don't pass it on to me'.

MORE: A selfish streak is coming out as the marathon approachesWhen you've got a daughter who often pretends to be a dog, which involves licking my face, you see why I would be a little concerned.

I've just got to try and control anything that I can at the moment and make sure my nutrition is on point in the nine days between now and Nottingham.

That means cutting out the weekly takeaway and making sure I'm putting in some good carbohydrates over the coming days.

I absolutely love food but I've cut out a lot of the rubbish (you know the tasty stuff we all love) in the build up to this race.

It better be worth it.

I've already looked up where the nearest Domino's pizza is in Nottingham as my reward. It will taste that much sweeter if I manage to smash a new personal best.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter